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Carola Gregor

  • The German émigré photographer Carola Gregor was an animal and child photographer and published some of her work in magazines and books. Today her work and life are almost forgotten.
  • Given name:
    Carola
  • Last name:
    Gregor
  • Alternative names:

    Margarete (Grete) Meyer, Grete Gorodiski, Grete Goreau

  • Date of Birth:
    20-04-1901
  • Place of Birth:
    Bremen (DE)
  • Date of Death:
    1989
  • Place of Death:
    Chappaqua (US)
  • Profession:
    PhotographerSculptor
  • Introduction:

    The German émigré photographer Carola Gregor was an animal and child photographer and published some of her work in magazines and books. Today her work and life are almost forgotten.

    Word Count: 30

  • Signature Image:
    Portrait of Carola Gregor (cutout of her papers of naturalisation).
  • Content:

    The German émigré Grete Goro was a photographer and the wife of the German-born photographer Fritz Goro, who became renowned with his photojournalistic work for Life and the Black Star agency, as well as for his seen-through-a-microscope photographs. Grete Goro worked as a photographer under her artist's name Carola Gregor and published some of her work in magazines and books, but her work and life are forgotten as she was overshadowed by her husband. During the 1930s and 1950s her animal and child photographs reached an international audience, but are completely forgotten today.

    Margarete (Grete) Mayer studied sculpture at the Bauhaus in Weimar and during this time she met the Bremen born Fritz Gorodiski (1901– 1986), who studied graphic design there and also, earlier, at the State Art School in Berlin. The couple married in 1926 and went by the names Grete and Fritz Goro. The hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic caused Fritz Goro to leave the Bauhaus and take up work as an advertising designer at the Ullstein publishing house, where he became art director of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (BIZ) and the Münchner Illustrirte Presse (MIP), to which the photographer Tim Gidal and the journalist Stefan Lorant were affiliated. Fritz Goro played a central role in the development of photojournalism and the graphic design of new magazines during the 1930s and was in the network to other photographers, photo agents and illustrators as for example Kurt Safranski, who also worked for Ullstein.

    It is not known whether Grete Goro finished her studies at the Bauhaus or if she worked as an artist. During Fritz Goro’s employment in Munich, she and their son Tom probably also lived there. Fritz Goro worked with Stefan Lorant at MIP and met other photographers in Munich, such as Fritz Henle and Tim Gidal, who later also emigrated to New York. In 1933 the editors of BIZ and MIP were wanted as enemies by the National Socialists. Fortunately, Fritz Goro was in Switzerland at the time, recovering from pneumonia. Grete Goro booked her son Tom and herself on a ‘ski trip’ near the Swiss border and managed to cross the border and meet up with Fritz Goro, who was unable to return to Munich, in Vienna. They took only a few things with them, including a couple of Leica cameras, but all their manuscripts, portfolios and artworks were left behind in Munich. Fritz Goro began working as a professional photographer to earn money for the family and probably hired the Hungarian émigré Endre Friedman (later Robert Capa) as his darkroom assistant. As the political situation was growing dangerous, the family could not stay long in Vienna; an image in the Black Star archive shows the situation in Vienna in 1934.

    The family first emigrated to Paris, which was at that time home to many German émigrés photographers and artists who later emigrated to New York, such as Lisette Model, Fred Stein, Josef Breitenbach, Hermann Landshoff, Lux and Andreas Feininger, Ylla, Lilly Joss and Ruth Staudinger Rozaffy. It is not known if Grete Goro was also able to restart her artistic career there or whether she worked as a photographer. Thanks to the help of her relatives in the U.S., the family had enough money to survive. As life in Paris during the 1930s was expensive, the family lived for a time in the Brittany countryside, where they photographed the everyday rural life of the Bretons and the seaside. Probably some of the images were sold to magazines like Vu, Vogue and Illustrated News and some survive in the Black Star archive. Also 23 photos were published over 16 pages in the June 1937 issue of National Geographic with the title “Where Bretons Wrest a Living from the Sea” and credited to Fritz Goro (Goro 1937). Although Grete Goro had relatives in the U.S., emigration to New York was not easy. Luckily Fritz Goro obtained an assignment from the French Steamship Company to photograph the steamer Normandie, which was at the time one of the biggest. The images, in unusual perspectives and angles, in the style of the New Vision, were published in advertisements for the steamer. Instead of a fee, Fritz Goro was given a passage to New York for himself and his family and in January 1936 they finally left Europe on board the S.S. Ile de France.

    In an interview in 1985 Fritz Goro recounted that, after living for a short time with Grete Goro’s relatives, the family moved to an apartment on 96th Street, where a darkroom was installed in one of the rooms. In the same interview he revealed that Grete Goro produced portraits of New York families under her professional name Carola Gregor and “later, to help to pay their son's tuition at a progressive private school, Grete took portraits of the students there“ (Smith 1985, 12–13). Unfortunately, none of these portraits survive. During the 1940s Fritz and Grete Goro lived with their son Tom at 222 Seaman Avenue, in the borough of Inwood on the northern tip of Manhattan. This was a residential area near the Hudson River, close to where the émigré photographers Ruth Staudinger Rozaffy and Ruth Jacobi-Roth also lived.  

    Through their connection with Kurt Safranski, who had also worked before his emigration at BIZ and Ullstein in Berlin and, together with German émigrés Kurt Kornfeld and Ernest Mayer, had founded the Black Star photo agency in 1935, Fritz Goro and Carola Gregor landed contracts with the agency. In 1936, the two started doing freelance jobs for Life magazine and, from 1944, Fritz Goro became a staff photographer on the magazine, working alongside other émigré staff photographers such as Andreas Feininger and Walter Sanders. Research into Carola Gregor's published work reveals credits to “Carola Gregor from B.S.” in two issues of Life (14 June 1937, p. 88; 13 September 1937, p. 104). However her name is not to be found in the digital database of the Black Star Collection, so perhaps her photographs were published in her husband's name. The image of hers published in the September 1937 issue was a portrait of Fritz Goro which appeared in the “Life’s pictures” section, in which the work of a contributing photographer was presented in each issue. Another photo agency besides Black Star, with which Carola Gregor contributed to Life was Monkmeyer Press (Life, 6 May 1940, p. 90). The agency founded by German émigrés Hilde and Paul Monkmeyer in around 1935/36 in New York.

    Research reveals that photographs by Carola Gregor were printed in seven issues of Life between 1937 and 1953 (14 June 1937, p. 88; 13 September 1937, p. 104; 6 May 1940, p. 90; 30 August 1948, p. 54–55; 20 September 1948, p. 109–112; 9 February 1953, pp. 72–73; 30 November 1953, p. 4) Often these images appeared in issues in which Fritz Goro’s photographs were also published. For Life’s 20 September 1948 issue, images by Carola Gregor appeared in the reportage “Liger. A lion and a tigress produce a new kind of zoo baby” (Anonymous 1948b, 109–112), celebrating the birth of a "liger" cub at Salt Lake City Zoo. Carola Gregor photographed the young animal going about its everyday life at the zoo, creating vivid and amusing images.

    Her animal photographs were also published in Popular Photography and U.S. Camera. Those in Popular Photography appeared in October 1942 (p. 40); March 1947 (p. 66); October 1947 (p. 69), August 1948, (pp. 81–82) and December 1948, (p. 95). Her photograph Homer- The Hydrophobic Duck for U.S. Camera 1943(p. 63) was taken at the Manumit School in Pawling. The coeducational boarding school was founded and operated as an elementary school on a farm, where animals like Homer the duck lived. He is captured walking across a footbridge above the water and Gregor's photograph gives the impression that he is standing on one leg. Whether or not the duck was really afraid of water can only be speculated at. In 1938/39 the Progressive Schools' Committee for Refugee Children was formed under the leadership of the Manumit School, granting accommodation and education to Jewish refugee children. This adds yet another layer of historical context to Gregor's photograph.
    Carola Gregor's animal photographs were also printed in the brochure for the Brazilian Pavilion, Pavilhão do Brasil. Feira Mundial de Nova York de 1939, on the occasion of the World’s Fair of 1939 in New York. Constructed and planned by the Brazilian architects Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa and interior designed by the German-born architect Paul Lester Wiener, the pavilion can be seen as belonging to the modern architectural movement of the 1930s. As well as designing such features as lamps and furniture, Wiener also created a special typography for the pavilion and designed the brochure, for which Carola Gregor contributed four images. In addition to showcasing Brazilian life, economy and culture, a  garden complete with Amazonian birds was created. After the dismantling of the World’s Fair the birds were sent to the Central Park and Staten Island Zoos. Other émigré photographers working for and/or photographing the World's Fair 1939 in New York, were Ruth Bernhard, Ernest Nash, Andreas Feininger, Walter Sanders, Lilo Hess and Rolf Tietgens.

    It is clear that Carola Gregor had a name as an animal photographer and formed part of the network of other female émigré animal photographers in New York such as Lilo Hess and Ylla, who also photographed at New York's Zoos, and Lilo Hess, who provided images of Frank Buck’s safari at the World’s Fair in 1939. Why Carola Gregor’s name subsequently disappeared from photographic history can only be guessed at. One reason was surely that, during the 1930s and 1940s, although she did get commissions, life as a female photographer was hard in this male-dominated field. Carola Gregor specialised in a range of genres, from portraits to pictures of children and animals and also landscapes. The fields of child and animal photography were female dominated and ranked less highly than other photographic genres, which could also explain the disappearance of Carola Gregor’s photographic career. Less well-known than Ylla and Lilo Hess, other female émigré photographers working in the field of child photography were Lilly Joss, Elizabeth Colman (Chinatown U.S.A.), Trude Fleischmann and Ernest Nash. Another reason for Carola Gregor's professional disappearance could be that she almost always appeared in the context of his husband, Fritz Goro, although her images were very much her own. “Carola Gregor is the wife of Life magazine’s famed scientific photographer, Fritz Goro. However, she is certainly a competent photographer in her own right” (Anonymous1948a, 36) or “Carola Gregor is the wife of Fritz Goro, Life magazine’s science photographer, but needs no assistance from her husband” (Anonymous1948c, 148). The caption to one of her images in U.S. Camera in 1943 states: “Carola Gregor is noted for her excellent shots of children and animals. Has done many special assignments for national magazines. The natural and spontaneous expression of her subjects are the keynote to her success. Shares spotlight with equally famous husband – Fritz Goro” (Anonymous 1943, 63). The art historian Zoe Smith quotes in her abstract on Fritz Goro, this when she observes that Carola Gregor’s “photographic career was soon overshadowed by Goro's” (Smith 1985, 13). Fritz Goro’s work by contrast was appearing widely in American magazines and he was receiving a great many commissions and travelling a lot. It can also be surmised that it was Carola Gregor’s job as a wife to manage everyday life and take care of the family. Therefore, it would be very interesting to see and find further images of her and adding these to her photographic career in New Yorker exile.

    It is not known, if Carola Gregor ever took up sculpture again in New York, a practice she had begun at the Bauhaus in Weimar. There is also no information on her student years at the Bauhaus. Besides Life, Popular Photography and U.S. Camera her images also appeared in Minicam (vol. 4, no. 7-12, 1941, p. 28), Architectural Record (vol. 100, 1946, p. 95) and The Complete Photographer (vol. 10, 1942, p. 3375). During the 1940s she was also commissioned by the Office of War Information and the Department of Agriculture to contribute a photograph for a poster for the War Manpower Commission. This farm labour-themed poster was displayed on noticeboards in small town post offices, community centres and other public buildings. Other émigré photographers working for the Office of War Information were Fritz Henle, Kurt Safranski, Ernest Nash, Andreas Feininger.

    In 1988 the only exhibition to feature the work of Carola Gregor, Master Photographs From the Photography in the Fine Arts Exhibitions, 1959-1967, was held at the International Center of Photography.

    Word Count: 2058

  • Media:
    Petitions for naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York of Carola Gregor (Naturalizations, box 1018-1020, cert. no. 513486-513958, 9-12 Apr 1945, Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 - 2009, RG 21. National Archives at New York, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-2WF8?i=1079 & cc=2060123 & personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQP7X-FZX8">familysearch.org).
    Homer- The Hydrophobic Duck by Carola Gregor published in U.S. Camera 1943, p. 63 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Portrait of Fritz Goro by Carola Gregor, published in Life, 13 September 1937, p. 104 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Photograph of Amazonian birds by Carola Gregor for the brochure Pavilhão do Brasil. Feira Mundial de Nova York de 1939, pp. 11–12 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Mending Nets by Carola Gregor, published in Popular Photography, October 1942, p. 40 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    A gleaming spider by Carola Gregor, published in Popular Photography, August 1948, pp. 81–82 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Reportage “Liger. A lion and a tigress produce a new kind of zoo baby” with images by Carola Gregor, published in Life, 20 September 1948, p. 109 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Reportage “Liger. A lion and a tigress produce a new kind of zoo baby” with images by Carola Gregor, published in Life, 20 September 1948, pp. 111–112 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    War Manpower Commission. Farm labor poster distributed to Department of Agriculture. Photograph by Carola Gregor (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Anonymous, “Life’s Party.” With Image by Carola Greogor. Life, 14 June 1937, p. 88.

    Anonymous. “Life’s pictures.” With Image by Carola Greogor. Life, 13 September 1937, p. 104.

    Anonymous. “How a few Thousand Nazis Seized Norway.” With Images by Carola Greogor. Life, 6 May 1940, pp. 90–98.

    Anonymous. “Fisherman Convoy.” With Image by Carola Greogor. Popular Photography, October 1942, p. 40.

    Anonymous. “Homer- The Hydrophobic Duck.” Image by Carola Gregor. U.S. Camera, 1943, p. 63.

    Anonymous. “Backlighted Pictures.” With Image by Carola Greogor. Popular Photography, March 1947, p. 66.

    Anonymous. “Comparative Pictures.” With Image by Carola Greogor. Popular Photography, October 1947, pp. 62–74.

    Anonymous. “Summer Pictures.” With Images by Carola Greogor. Popular Photography, August 1948, pp. 73–87.

    Anonymous. “Liger. A lion and a tigress produce a new kind of zoo baby.” With Images by Carola Greogor. Life, 20 September 1948, pp. 109–112.

    Anonymous, “Holiday Salon.” With Image by Carola Greogor. Popular Photography, December 1948, pp. 88–115.

    Anonymous. “Miracle of the Sea.” With Images by Carola Greogor. Life, 9 February 1953, pp. 72–73.

    Anonymous. “Fritz Goro, 85, Photographer; Recorded Science Advances.” The New York Times, 19 December 1986, p. 37.

    Goro, Fritz. On the nature of things: the scientific photography of Fritz Goro. Aperture, 1993. Internet Archive. Accessed 5 April 2021.

    Goro, Fritz. “Where Bretons Wrest a Living from the Sea.” National Geographic, vol. 71, no. 6, June 1937, pp. 751–766.

    Kornfeld, Phoebe. Passionate Publishers. The Founders of the Black Star Photo Agency. University of Missouri Press, 2021.

    Pavilhão do Brasil. Feira Mundial de Nova York de 1939, edited by Brazil’s Representation to the New York World’s Fair 1939, exh. cat. New York World’s Fair, New York, 1939.

    Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. Abbeville Press, 1994.

    Smith, C. Zoe. “Fritz Goro on Tape. An Emigre Photojournalist’s Professional Biography.” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Memphis, 4 August 1985). Accessed 15 February 2020.

    Word Count: 284

  • Archives and Sources:

    Word Count: 10

  • Author:
    Helene Roth
  • Exile:

    New York City, US (1936–1970s), New York, US (1970s–1989).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    96th Street, Upper West Side, New York City (residence, 1937–1940); 222 Seaman Avenue, Inwood, New York City (residence, 1940–?); 324 Bedford Road, Chappaqua, New York (residence, 1970s–1989).

  • Metropolis:
    New York
  • Helene Roth. "Carola Gregor." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2948/object/5138-11021735, last modified: 02-12-2022.
  • Hermann Landshoff
    Photographer
    New York

    Besides outdoor fashion shots, Hermann Landshoff was a portrait and street photographer. During his time in New York, he captured the cultural, artistic and intellectual émigré scene as well as his photographer colleagues.

    Word Count: 33

    Walter Sanders
    Photographer
    New York

    Walter Sanders was a German émigré photographer. In 1938 he arrived in New York, where he worked from 1939 until the end of his life for the Black Star agency and, from 1944, for Life magazine.

    Word Count: 33

    Kurt Safranski
    Picture AgentFounding MemberTeacherCartoonistPublisherIllustrator
    New York

    Kurt Safranski was one of the founding members of the Black Star photo agency, a teacher at the New School for Social Research and the author of photojournalistic articles and books.

    Word Count: 31

    Andreas Feininger
    PhotographerWriterEditor
    New York

    Andreas Feininger, was a German émigré photographer who arrived in New York with his wife Wysse Feininger in 1939. He started a lifelong career exploring the city's streets, working as a photojournalist and writing a large number of photography manuals.

    Word Count: 39

    Fred Stein
    PhotographerLawyer
    New York

    Always accompanied by his camera, the German émigré photographer Fred Stein discovered New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. His pictures provide an human and multifaceted view of the metropolis.

    Word Count: 31

    Alexey Brodovitch
    PhotographerArt DirectorGraphic Designer
    New York

    Alexey Brodovitch was a Belarus-born émigré graphic artist, art director and photographer who, from 1933, worked in New York for Harper’s Bazaar magazine and at the New School for Social Research.

    Word Count: 31

    Rolf Tietgens
    PhotographerEditorWriter
    New York

    Rolf Tietgens was a German émigré photographer who arrived in New York in 1938. Although, in the course of his photographic career, his artistic and surrealist images were published and shown at exhibitions, his work, today, is very little known.

    Word Count: 39

    Marion Palfi
    Photographer
    New York

    Marion Palfi was a German émigré photographer who lived in New York from the 1940s to the 1960s. Her photographic engagement in social and political topics made her name for her use of the camera to draw attention to social injustices.

    Word Count: 41

    Tim Gidal
    PhotographerPublisherArt Historian
    New York

    Tim Gidal was a German-Jewish photographer, publisher and art historian emigrating in 1948 emigrated to New York. Besides his teaching career, he worked as a photojournalist and, along with his wife Sonia Gidal, published youth books.

    Word Count: 35

    Ernest Nash
    PhotographerArchaeologistLawyer
    New York

    Ernest Nash was a German born photographer, who pursued his photographic as well as an archeologic interest in Roman architecture after his emigration to New York in 1939. Besides this research interest, he also worked as a portrait photographer and publisher.

    Word Count: 40

    Lilo Hess
    Photographer
    New York

    The German émigré Lilo Hess was an animal photographer working for the Museum for Natural History and the Bronx Zoo, as well being a freelance photographer and publisher of children's books.

    Word Count: 31

    Fritz Henle
    Photographer
    New York

    Fritz Henle was a German Jewish photographer who emigrated in 1936 to New York, where he worked as a photojournalist for various magazines. He also published several photobooks of his travels throughout North America and Asia.

    Word Count: 35

    Kurt Kornfeld
    PublisherPicture AgentFounding Member
    New York

    Kurt Kornfeld was a publisher and literary agent and a founding member of the Black Star photo agency in New York City after his emigration in 1936 to New York.

    Word Count: 29

    Ernest Mayer
    Picture AgentFounding MemberPublisher
    New York

    Ernest Mayer was co-founder of the Black Star Publishing Company photo agency, which built a network for émigré photographers and the American magazine scene from the mid-1930s until the end of the 1950s.

    Word Count: 34

    Ruth Staudinger
    PhotographerCinematographerArt dealer
    New York

    Very few and only fragmentary details can be found on the German émigré photographer Ruth Staudinger, who emigrated in the mid-1930s to New York City. Her nomadic life was also characterisedd by several changes of name along the way.

    Word Count: 40

    T. Lux Feininger
    PhotographerPainter
    New York

    Lux T. Feininger was a German-American émigré photographer and painter and the brother of the photographer Andreas Feininger, arriving in 1936 in New York. Although he started taking photographs during the 1920s in Germany, Feininger is better known for his career as a painter and his photographic work is largely unacknowledged.

    Word Count: 50

    Trude Fleischmann
    Photographer
    New York

    Trude Fleischmann was an Austrian-Jewish portrait and dance photographer who emigrated in 1939 to New York, where she opened a studio in Midtown Manhattan with the photographer Frank Elmer.

    Word Count: 28

    New York World's Fair postcard View of the Constitution Mall looking toward statue of George Washington and Trylon and Perisphere
    Postcard
    New York

    Shortly after the arrival in New York in 1939, photographs by the German émigré Ernest Nash were used and reproduced for postcards of the New York’s World’s Fair.

    Word Count: 29

    Black Star Agency
    Photo Agency
    New York

    The German émigrés Kurt S(z)afranski, Ern(e)st Mayer and Kurt Kornfeld founded Black Star in 1936. The photo agency established was a well-run networking institution in New York.

    Word Count: 31

    Monkmeyer Photo Service
    Photo Agency
    New York

    The Monkmeyer Photo Service photo agency was founded around 1935/36 by the German émigrés Hilde and Paul August Monkmeyer in New York City.

    Word Count: 23

    Josef Breitenbach
    Photographer
    New York

    On arriving in New York in 1941, the German photographer Josef Breitenbach tried to restart as a portrait, street and experimental photographer, as well as a teacher of photo-history and techniques.

    Word Count: 30

    Ruth Bernhard
    Photographer
    New York

    Ruth Bernhard was a German émigré photographer who lived in New York from the 1920s to the 1940s. Beside her series on female nudes, her place in the photography network, as well as in the New York queer scene, is unknown and understudied.

    Word Count: 43

    Lisette Model
    Photographer
    New York

    Lisette Model was an Austrian-born photographer who lived in New York with her husband Evsa Model after emigrating from France. Her street photographs capturing the curiosities of everyday life quickly caught the interest of museums and magazines.

    Word Count: 37

    Ruth Jacobi
    Photographer
    New York

    Ruth Jacobi was a German-speaking, Polish-born photographer who emigrated in 1935 to New York, where she opened a studio together with her sister Lotte Jacobi. She later had her own portrait studio.

    Word Count: 31

    Lilly Joss
    Photographer
    New York

    Lilly Joss was an émigré freelance photographer in New York. She worked for the Black Star photo agency and magazines and was also a portrait and theatre photographer.

    Word Count: 28

    Ylla
    Photographer
    New York

    Ylla was an Austrian-born photographer who emigrated to New York in 1941. Specialising in animal photography, she produced not only studio photographs, but also shot outside on urban locations in the metropolis.

    Word Count: 31

    Elizabeth Coleman
    PhotographerWriterEditor
    New York

    The German émigré photographer Elizabeth Coleman emigrated in 1941 to New York, where she photographed and published the photobook Chinatown U.S.A..

    Word Count: 22

    Chinatown U.S.A.
    Photobook
    New York

    Chinatown U.S.A. is a photobook published by the German émigré photographer Elizabeth Coleman in 1946 focusing on American-Chinese communities in New York and San Francisco.

    Word Count: 26