Krull, Germaine (1897–1985) By Long, Jonathan
Germaine Krull was one of the major photographers of the interwar European avant-garde, producing work that was highly diverse in both subject matter and technique. Her most characteristic early images include nudes exploring lesbian sexuality and street scenes of Berlin. She is best known for Métal (1928), a portfolio that gathers together sixty-four industrial photographs taken in Holland, France, and Germany. Métal embodies a new kind of industrial aesthetic, in which concentration on decontextualized details and fragments rather than the entirety of machines and buildings seeks to highlight the beauty of modern industrial forms.
Krull lived in Paris from 1926 to 1935, and played a major role in importing the avant-garde photographic techniques of Neues Sehen (New Vision) into France from Central Europe. Her French period is marked by studio work, pioneering photo-reportage, and street photography, the latter of which is partially collected in the book 100 x Paris (1929), in which conventional images of the metropolis are interspersed with street scenes employing avant-garde techniques. During World War II, Krull worked as coordinator of the Free French photographic service in Africa. After 1945, she lived largely in Thailand and India, and her later photographs document the lives of Tibetans in India.