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Wolf Suschitzky

  • Given name:
    Wolf
  • Last name:
    Suschitzky
  • Date of Birth:
    29-08-1912
  • Place of Birth:
    Vienna (AT)
  • Date of Death:
    07-10-2016
  • Place of Death:
    London (GB)
  • Profession:
    CinematographerPhotographer
  • Introduction:

    The Viennese Wolf Suschitzky made a career as a photographer and cinematographer after emigrating to London in 1935.

    Word Count: 17

  • Signature Image:
    Animal and Zoo Magazine, vol. 3, no. 6, 1938, cover photograph by Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
  • Content:

    Wolf Suschitzky made a career as a cameraman and photographer after emigrating to London. Suschitzky was an exponent of socio-critical photography and film work with an interest in people’s living and working conditions. He also made a name for himself with his widely circulated photographs of animals and children, which formulated a sensitive approach to his subjects. The photographer also disseminated the principles of his camera art through photo guidebooks.

    Wolf Suschitzky was the brother of the photographer Edith Tudor-Hart, who emigrated to London ahead of him. Both grew up in Vienna in a socialist, bibliophile parental home. Wolf Suschitzky did an apprenticeship at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna. In 1935 he emigrated to London via the Netherlands and worked as a freelance photographer for magazines such as Illustrated, Lilliput and Picture Post as well as as a cameraman. In 1948, the photographer and photo historian Helmut Gernsheim, who, like Suschitzky, had emigrated to London, included him in his book The Man Behind the Camera, which presented nine contemporary photographers, including three emigrants – Felix H. Man, Wolf Suschitzky and Gernsheim himself. In 1955, the first volume of the Great Photographs series, published by Photography magazine, was dedicated to Suschitzky. It wrote: “For the last eleven years Suschitzky has worked as a camera-man on documentary films. He is one of those who have an essentially sympathetic approach to their subjects - whether these are human beings, animals or trees.” (Hall/Burton 1955, n.p.)

    On his arrival in London, Suschitzky wrote about how it felt to be a photographer in a strange city: “A foreigner notices things that are quite commonplace for locals. They take notice of things that natives take for granted and that they no longer notice.” (Suschitzky in Winckler 2003, 276) Wolf Suschitzky, who came from a family of booksellers, was particularly interested in the second-hand bookshops on Charing Cross Road, where he repeatedly took photographs. The photographs were published as a book in 1988 under the title Charing Cross in the Thirties, with text written by the emigrant journalist Peter de Mendelsohn, who was later to be on the editorial staff of the emigrant newspaper Die Zeitung.
    In 1937, Suschitzky worked as an intern for the director and cameraman Paul Burnford, who was commissioned by Strand Films and producer Paul Rotha to shoot the  documentary series Animal Kingdom at London and Whipsnade Zoos. Over two years, six films were made about the zoos and their animals (Barrington-Johnson 2005, 116). As an assistant, Suschitzky was responsible for the technical supervision of the apparatus, the transport of tripods and equipment, the exposed film rolls and shooting schedule lists (Omasta et al. 2010, 70). At the same time, Suschitzky photographically documented the filming with his own camera – a practice he would continue on future film sets where he worked as a cameraman. Wolf Suschitzky’s work on the zoo documentaries led to a long-term collaboration with Julian Huxley, then secretary of the Zoological Society of London, whom he photographed many times in later years. Suschitzky was occupied with animal photography throughout his life (Suschitzky 2006, 201). In 1939, he contributed 25 photographs to Lorna Lewis’s The Children’s Zoo, a book about the section of London Zoo where children could interact with animal babies, based on Julian Huxley’s idea (Winckler 2018, 73). Suschitzky also published in Animal and Zoo Magazine, founded by Huxley in 1936, which started with a circulation of 100,000 and was discontinued in 1941 during war. Suschitzky provided many cover and interior photographs taken at London Zoo and its rural Whipsnade branch.
    Wolf Suschitzky also used these and other photographs for his photography books and photo guides. Photographing Children (1940) and Photographing Animals (1941, with a foreword by Julian Huxley) were both published by The Studio. All About Taking Baby and Your Camera was published by Focal Press in 1952. Focal Press was a publishing house for photo guides founded by the emigrant Andor Kraszna-Krausz in 1938 that published emigrant photographers and authors such as Alex Strasser and Walter Nurnberg.
    Wolfgang Suschitzky’s photographs articulate an extraordinary understanding of animal photography by placing the animals in the picture as models at eye level. In his book Photographing Animals, Suschitzky suggests lying on the floor with small animals to reduce the distance between animal and photographer, and then to wait until the subject’s personality manifests itself through the viewfinder. Suschitzky writes about the “individuality” of the animal – “they have wills of their own”, of “photographing the animal from its own level” and of “returning to the subject from the animal’s point of view” (Suschitzky 1941, 17f.) In Suschitzky’s photographs, the animals appear neither passive nor as though they are courting attention; they are alert, intelligent creatures, each with their individual animal personality.
    Kingdom of the Beasts (1956), published by Thames & Hudson, a publishing house founded by émigrés, was the product of many years of collaboration between Suschitzky and Huxley. It shows a wide variety of animals such as giraffes, apes and penguins in full-page photographs, sometimes reproduced on a double page. Suschitzky shows the animals in close-up and thus from perspectives that no zoo visit could provide. It can be assumed that Suschitzky was able to visit the zoo at times when no other visitors were present. This privilege is conveyed in the photographs, whereby the context - cage bars, enclosures, visitors – is left out or only hinted at. Only rarely does a certain sorrowful mood shine through in his animal portraits, probably most clearly in his photograph of a gorilla, over whose body the shadow of the bars fall. The melancholy of this animal portrait distinguishes the work from Suschitzky’s other photographs and it probably became one of his most famous animal pictures for this very reason.

    In 1956, when Kingdom of the Beasts appeared, Suschitzky was already working successfully as a cinematographer in film. His filmography includes short films with an educational impetus such as Defeat Tuberculosis (1943) or Triumph over Deafness (1946), socially critical documentaries such as Children of the City (1944, directed by Budge Cooper) on child delinquency in Scotland, and feature films such as Cat & Mouse (1958) directed by Paul Rotha and Ulysses (1967) by Joseph Strick, based on the book by James Joyce. In older age and from the 1980s onwards, Wolf Suschitzky continued to garner attention for his photographic and cinematic work through exhibitions, monographs and exhibition catalogues. In 1992, the Three Generations of Suschitzky – Wolf, Peter & Adam Suschitzky exhibition opened at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery. It brought together the work of Wolf Suschitzky, his son Peter Suschitzky, the cinematographer responsible for such films as The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and A History of Violence (2005), and his grandson Adam, who also works as a director of photography. In his flat in Maida Avenue in Little Venice, Wolf Suschitzky regularly welcomed researchers such as Brigitte Mayr, Michael Omasta, Ursula Seeber, Julia Winckler and also the author of this article, who met him in 2010. Exhibitions such as Wolf Suschitzky: A Photographer from Vienna, organised in 2006 at the Literaturhaus Wien, brought him recognition also in his country of origin. His photographic estate is housed in the Fotohof Salzburg, and in 2020 the Wolf Suschitzky Photography Prize was announced there.

    Word Count: 1183

  • Media:
    Animal and Zoo Magazine, vol. 3, no. 6, 1938, p. 29 with photographs by Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Animal and Zoo Magazine, vol. 3, no. 6, 1938, p. 30 with photographs by Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Animal and Zoo Magazine, vol. 3, no. 2, 1938, pp. 14–15 with photographs by Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Wolf Suschitzky (photographs) and Julian Huxley (text). Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames and Hudson, 1956, pp. 84–85 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Wolf Suschitzky. Photographing Animals. The Studio, 1941, cover (© Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Wolf Suschitzky. Photographing Animals. The Studio, 1941, p. 21 (© Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Wolf Suschitzky. Photographing Children. The Studio, 1940, cover (© Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Wolf Suschitzky. Photographing Children. The Studio, 1940, p. 53 (© Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Lilliput, vol. 6, 1940, p. 311: “London Snowstorm”, photo: Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Auer, Anna. “No Resting Place. Encounter with Wolf Suschitzky / No Resting Place. Begegnungen mit Wolf Suschitzky.” Wolf Suschitzky Photos, edited by Michael Omasta et al., Synema, 2006, pp. 8–15.

    Barrington-Johnson, J. The Zoo. The Story of the London Zoo. Robert Hale, 2005.

    Forbes, Duncan. “Wolf Suschitzky in Vienna and London. Photographic Exchange and Continuity / Wolf Suschitzky in Wien und London. Kontinuität und Transfer in der Fotografie.” Wolf Suschitzky Photos, edited by Michael Omasta et al., Synema, 2006, pp.16–29.

    Gernsheim, Helmut. The Man Behind the Camera. The Fountain Press, 1948.

    Hall, Norman, and Basil Burton, editors. Great Photographs, vol. 1: Suschitzky. Photography, 1955.

    Omasta, Michael, et al., editors. Wolf Suschitzky Photos. Synema, 2006.

    Omasta, Michael, et al., editors. Wolf Suschitzky. Films. Synema, 2010.

    Omasta, Michael, and Brigitte Mayr, editors. Wolf Suschitzky: Seven Decades of Photography. Synema, 2014.

    Osman, Colin. “Der Einfluß deutscher Fotografen im Exil auf die britische Pressefotografie.” Kunst im Exil in Großbritannien 1933–1945, exh. cat. Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin, 1986, pp. 83–87.

    Schreiner, Peter, et al., editors. Wolf Suschitzky – Work. Fotohof edition, 2020.

    Suschitzky, Wolf. Photographing Children (How to do it series, 26). The Studio, 1940.

    Suschitzky, Wolf. Photographing Animals (How to do it series, 29). The Studio, 1941.

    Suschitzky, Wolf. Faithfully ours. Cats and Dogs. Text by Cécile Smythe. Jarrold & Sons, 1950.

    Suschitzky, Wolf. Animal Babies. Thames & Hudson, 1957.

    Suschitzky, Wolf, and Raphael Samuel. Charing Cross Road in the Thirties (Photo-Library, 9). Dirk Nishen, 1989.

    Suschitzky, Wolf. “A Short Autobiography of a Long-lived Photographer / Kurze Autobiografie eines langlebigen Fotografen.” Wolf Suschitzky Photos, edited by Michael Omasta et al., Synema, 2006, pp. 194–205.

    Suschitzky, Wolf and Julian Huxley. Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames & Hudson, 1956.

    Winckler, Julia. “Gespräch mit Wolfgang Suschitzky, Fotograf und Kameramann, London 2001/2002.” Exilforschung. Ein internationales Jahrbuch, vol. 21: Film und Fotografie, edited by Claus Dieter-Krohn et al., edition text + kritik, 2003, pp. 254–279.

    Winckler, Julia. “‘Quite content to be called a good craftsman’ – an Exploration of some of Wolf Suschitzky’s Extensive Contributions to the Field of Applied Photography between 1935 and 1955.” Applied Arts in British Exile from 1933. Changing Visual and Material Culture (The Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, 19), edited by Marian Malet et al., Brill/Rodopi, 2019, pp. 67–92.

    Word Count: 349

  • Acknowledgements:

    My deepest thanks go to Peter Suschitzky who gave me permission to reproduce the works of Wolf Suschitzky.

    Word Count: 18

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Exile:

    London, GB (1935–2016).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Douglas House, 6 Maida Avenue, Little Venice, London W2.

  • Metropolis:
    London
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Wolf Suschitzky." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/1470/object/5138-11267188, last modified: 20-06-2021.
  • Edith Tudor-Hart
    Photographer

    The Viennese photographer Edith Tudor-Hart emigrated to England in 1933 and made a name with her photographs focusing on questions of class, social exclusion and the lives of marginalised people.

    Word Count: 29

    Edith Tudor-Hart took a series of photographs of the construction and opening of Lawn Road Flats in 1934 (Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia, © The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    Edith Tudor-Hart, Lawn Road Flats’ Christmas card, 1934, cover (Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia, © The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Edith Tudor-Hart, Lawn Road Flats’ Christmas card, 1934, inside (Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia, © The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Edith Tudor-Hart, Gee Street, Finsbury, London, c. 1936, in Wal Hannington’s The Problem of the Distressed Areas, Left Book Club Edition, 1937, pl. 23 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Lilliput, vol. 4, 1939, p. 426: “Should we have this? A beauty parlour for dogs”, photo: Edith Tudor-Hart, c. 1937 and p. 427: “Must we have this? A London slum”, photo: Edith Tudor-Hart, c. 1936 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Margery Spring Rice. Working-Class Wives. Their Health and Conditions. Penguin Press, 1939, cover with photograph by Edith Tudor-Hart (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Margery Spring Rice. Working-Class Wives. Their Health and Conditions. Penguin Press, 1939, pl. 2–4: photographs by Edith Tudor-Hart (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).
    London
    Julian Huxley
    ZoologistPhilosopherWriter

    Julian Huxley was the director of London Zoo from 1935 to 1942 and worked closely with emigrant photographers, artists and architects, including Berthold Lubetkin, Erna Pinner and Wolf Suschitzky.

    Word Count: 27

    Editorial by Julian Huxley in the first issue of Animal and Zoo Magazine, no. 1, 1936, p. 6 (METROMOD Archive).
    Charlotte Wolff. Studies in Hand-Reading. Chatto & Windus, 1936, p. 77: Reading Julian and Aldous Huxley’s hands (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933–1945, Frankfurt am Main).Charlotte Wolff. “The Form and Dermatoglyphs of the Hands and Feet of certain Anthropoid Apes”. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Series A, 1937, Part 3, 347 + Plate (Library of the Zoological Institute, University of Hamburg). At the zoo’s behest, Charlotte Wolff applied chirology to the primates at London Zoo.“Young Artists in the Zoo” reads the headline to this photo essay on the Animal Art Studio at London Zoo, published in the Animal and Zoo Magazine, vol. 2, no. 11, 1938, p. 18–19 (METROMOD Archive).Julian Huxley and Ludwig Koch. Animal Language. Photographs by Ylla. Country Life, 1938, cover (METROMOD Archive). Two records of animal voices were included with this sound book.Erna Pinner. “Map of geographical distribution.” Julian S. Huxley. Zoo. Official Guide to the Gardens and Aquarium of the Zoological Society of London, 1937, pp. 102–103 (ZSL Library, London, Original © Erna Pinner).Julian Huxley and Wolf Suschitzky. Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames & Hudson, 1956, pp. 157–158 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky)László Moholy-Nagy, Bill of Fare, farewell dinner menu for Walter Gropius, London, March 1937: List of Toasts naming Julian Huxley as chairman of the event (Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia, @ László Moholy-Nagy).
    London
    Lilliput
    Magazine

    The magazine Lilliput, founded by the émigré journalist Stefan Lorant in 1937, gave work to emigrated artists and photographers such as Kurt Hutton, Walter Suschitzky, Walter Trier and Edith Tudor-Hart.

    Word Count: 29

    Lilliput, vol. 6, no. 2, 1940, cover by Walter Trier (METROMOD Archive).
    Lilliput, vol. 3, 1938, p. 10: “The Beautiful Llama”, Spohr, Cape Town and p. 11: “Mr. Neville Chamberlain”, photo: “, photo: Wide World, London (Photo: Private Archive).Lilliput, vol. 3, 1938, p. 223: “The Ruler of Germany”, photo: Keystone, London and p. 224: “The Terror of the Zoo”, photo: A. P., London (Photo: Private Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, cover by Walter Trier (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, contents for October (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, p. 322: “We shall conquer the world: German Propaganda Minister, Dr. Goebbels”, photo: Schall, Paris and p. 323: “Goodness! I’m all of a-tremble. Sea-lion in the Zoo”, photo: Keystone, London (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, p. 332: drawing by Walter Trier and p. 333: “Sea Spray” by T. Thompson (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, p. 411: “Fate in Five Words” by Alfred Polgar (METROMOD Archive). A short story on the homelessness of émigrés.Lilliput, vol. 6, no. 2, 1940, p. 148: “The Beauty of the snow: The painter who tries to capture it”, photo: Dulovits, Budapest and p. 149: “Three Stories” by Ferenc Molnar (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 4, 1939, p. 426: “Should we have this? A beauty parlour for dogs”, photo: Edith Tudor-Hart, c. 1937 and p. 427: “Must we have this? A London slum”, photo: Edith Tudor-Hart, c. 1936 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Lilliput, vol. 6, 1940, p. 311: “London Snowstorm”, photo: Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Advertisement for Lilliput in the first issue of Picture Post, vol. 1, 1938, p. 2 (Photo: Private Archive). Both magazines were founded by Stefan Lorant.Essay on Lilliput in the first issue of Picture Post, vol. 1, 1938, p. 73 (Photo: Private Archive).Advertisement for Lilliput in Picture Post, vol. 3, 1939, p. 2: overview on Walter Trier’s covers (Photo: Private Archive).
    London
    Die Zeitung
    Newspaper

    From 1941 to 1945, the émigré German-language newspaper Die Zeitung was published in London, reporting on the war on the continent and on the situation in Germany.

    Word Count: 25

    Front page of Die Zeitung, 7 April 1941 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], Quislings (I.): “Qui mange du Papen, en meurt", in Die Zeitung, 29 March 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], Quislings (IV.) Tiso: Das Vorbild des Balkan-Quislings [Model of the Balkan Quisling], in Die Zeitung, 17 April 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], “Seit vielen Monaten war ich zum Schweigen verurteilt” [For many months I had been condemned to silence], in Die Zeitung, 2 July 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], B.D.M., in Die Zeitung, 8 July 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], Mussolini, in Die Zeitung, 6 August 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Robert Ziller [Richard Ziegler], Heinrich Himmler, in Die Zeitung, 27 October 1944, p. 4 (Photo: Private Archive).Walter Trier, Des Führers Ahnengalerie [The Führer’s Ancestral Gallery] in Die Zeitung, 3 September 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Walter Trier, Der Führer: “Komm nur weiter, wir sind sicher bald oben!” [Keep coming, I’m sure we’ll be up there soon!] in Die Zeitung, 22 September 1941, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Walter Trier, Die Ingredientien einer Hitlerrede [The Ingredients of a Hitler Speech], in Die Zeitung, 3 January 1942, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive).Walter Trier, Himmler, Dr. Petiot: “Was? Lumpige 54 Morde? Anfänger!” [What? A measly 54 murders? Rookie!] in Die Zeitung, 3 January 1942, p. 3 (Photo: Private Archive). Walter Trier’s final illustration for Die Zeitung, dedicated to a fictional conversation between a serial killer (Petiot) and a mass murderer (Himmler).
    London
    Focus on Architecture and Sculpture
    Book

    Focus on Architecture and Sculpture by émigré photographer Helmut Gernsheim brought together his work and experience as a photographer for the National Buildings Record (NBR).

    Word Count: 25

    Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, cover (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).
    Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 1 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 2 and 3 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 4 and 5 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 6 and 7 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 14 and 15 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 52 and 53 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 54a, 54b and 55 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 60a and 60b (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).
    London
    Thames & Hudson
    Publishing House

    The emigrants Eva Feuchtwang (later Eva Neurath) and Walter Neurath founded the Thames & Hudson publishing house in 1949, which published art history books, photo books and collection catalogues.

    Word Count: 28

    Julian Huxley and Wolf Suschitzky. Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames & Hudson, 1956, bastard title (METROMOD Archive).
    Julian Huxley and Wolf Suschitzky. Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames & Hudson, 1956, pp. 157–158 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky)
    London