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Mario Bucovich

  • Given name:
    Mario
  • Last name:
    Bucovich
  • Alternative names:

    Mario von Bucovich

  • Date of Birth:
    06-02-1884
  • Place of Birth:
    Pula (HR)
  • Date of Death:
    30-11-1947
  • Place of Death:
    Mexico City (MX)
  • Profession:
    EditorPhotographer
  • Introduction:

    Only a few details are known of the life and career of émigré photographer and publisher Mario Bucovich, who, after emigrating to New York, published the photobooks Washington D.C. and Magic Manhattan.

    Word Count: 33

  • Signature Image:
    Portrait of Mario Bucovich, around 1928 (Köhn 2014).
  • Content:

    After emigrating to Paris in 1931, then to Spain in 1932 and spending a brief time in London (1934–35), Bucovich emigrated to New York in 1935. During his American period, he self-published two photobooks: Washington D.C. and Manhattan Magic. A Collection of Eighty-Five Photographs. During his time in New York, Bucovich also had a studio at 687 Lexington Avenue and advertised his portrait services in The New Yorker, perhaps looking to duplicate the strategies developed in London to New York, attracting a wealthier clientele. New York was not new to him as he had lived there with his wife Marie Bucovich from 1909 to 1910, working as an engineer for the Otis Elevator Company. When he returned in 1935, the city was completely transformed, with buildings such as the newly erected Woolworth Building (1913), 40 Wall Street, the Chrysler Building (1930) and the Empire State Building (1931).

    Before emigrating to New York in 1935, Bucovich had already lived a peripatetic life, travelling throughout the world, to Paris, London, Spain, Berlin and, in the early 1900s, also New York (Berkowitz; Köhn 2014). He was born in Pula in the Istrian region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and grew up enjoying the comfort and mobility of a late Habsburg aristocrat, his father being Baron August Freiherr von Bucovich. In the 1920s Bucovich worked primarily in Berlin at the Atelier Karl Schenker (Berlin), where he photographed personalities of the Weimar period such as the actress Elisabeth Bergner and Marlene Dietrich. Between 1925 and 1930 Mario and Marie Bucovich ran Karl Schenker‘s studio on Budapester Strasse 6 in Berlin. During the late 1920s his portraits appeared in German magazines including Der Querschnitt, Uhu, Die Dame or the French magazine Paris, where in 1933 a photograph by him was the cover. From March 1927 until March 1928 his portraits, city and architecture scenes were exhibited at Friedmann & Weber in Berlin. A review of the exhibition says: "The architectures and city views are excellent. Less convincing are the portraits. There is much in them that is deliberately blurred, perfumed, and sweet.“ (Scheffler 1927)

    At the end of the 1920s he reoriented his photographic practice, focusing on street scenes and urban topics and found recognition in avant-garde circles. In 1928 two photobooks, which were part of the series Das Gesicht der Städte, were edited with photographs by Mario Bucovich: Berlin 1928 (Albertus, 1928), with a foreword by Alfred Döblin, and Paris (Albertus 1928), with a foreword by Paul Morand and in which several images by the photographer Florence Henri were also reproduced. His street and city photographs, which were often in the aesthetics of the New Vision, were also shown at the Fotografie der Gegenwart exhibition at the Folkwang Museum in Essen in 1929, and were entered in an international photographic competition held by the Brooklyn Institute of Art and Science, which Bucovich won with a portrait of Lilli Darvas. (Anonymous 1928, 4)

    The hope of further opportunities for his work in Berlin probably prompted Bucovich to apply for German citizenship in January 1929, but this failed because he was unable to settle an outstanding tax debt at short notice. Therefore, he emigrated to Paris in 1931, where he opened a portrait studio. Between July 1932 and March 1934, he lived in Spain.
    At this time, a new form of tourism advertising was developing in Spain, which now included a greater use of photographic material by the publications concerned and so offered interested photographers a new and commercially attractive field of work, such as for Esplai magazine, where Bucovich's photographs featured both on the cover and inside the 8 April and 12 August 1934 issues. In the same year, he moved to London, where he was part of an exhibition at Sunderland House and published several works in the photographic magazine The Studio. In 1935 he published the book Photographs. 100 Selected Prints (Hamilton Studies, 1935), a volume presenting a cross-section of his photographic work to date: cityscapes and landscapes from his Berlin years as well as from his time in Spain, older portraits and recent photographs of members of the London upper class, which together reveal a certain objectification of his style.

    Bucovich married four times. His first wife, Marie Bucovich, accompanied him on his first stay in New York. During the 1930s he was married to Anna Bucovich (nee Anna Kirstein), with whom he lived in Berlin and Paris and emigrated to New York. Renee Bucovich and Fiona (née Macbeth) Bucovich, who he married after moving to Mexico, were his other two wives. Unfortunately, very few details are known of these women. An article on Anna Bucovich in The Leader Post (16 November 1945) mentions her working at the Office of War Information where she broadcast on the American news under the pseudonym ‘Anna Buerger’ five times a week. Because of the time difference, the broadcasts were recorded and then sent shortwave to Germany (Anonymous 1945, 8). Fiona Bucovich worked for the British Intelligence service during the Second World War. (Berkowitz / Todd 2017)

    In 1939, Bucovich emigrated to Mexico City, where he worked as a photographer until his death on 30 November 1947 in a traffic accident in Mexico City (Anonymous 1947, 2). During his time in Mexico, he produced a portrait series on the Russian émigré Leon Trotsky. (Anonymous 1940, 69) The series was in colour, which was very progressive for the time since colour photography was expensive and used mostly for commercial work. Further work was the Mexico Lindo series which was reproduced in colour lithograph as artwork reproductions. While in Mexico, Bucovitch maintained his US networks and his prints also appeared in the American Popular Photography magazine in the November, 1945 issue.

    Word Count: 905

  • Media:
    Mario Bucovich, left, with Mrs. S. Kent Legare (Evening Star, 5 June 1938, p. 41).
    Cover of Esplai magazine, 9 April 1934, with photograph by Mario Bucovich.
    Cover of Esplai magazine, 12 August 1934, with photograph by Mario Bucovich.
    Advertisement for American Photo Suppliers Co in Mexico on color print series published in Popular Photography, November 1945, p. 86.
    Photo series (original in colour) on Leon Trotsky by Mario Bucovich published in St. Louis Post Dispatch, 14 January 1940, p. 69.
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Anonymous. "Prize Photographs Shown At Academy." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23 October 1928, p. 4.

    Anonymous. "Trotsky watchfully waits." St. Louis Post Dispatch, 14 January 1940, p. 69.

    Anonymous. "Democracy voiced to German women." The Leader Post, 16 November 1945, p. 8.

    Anonymous. "British Consul Injured, Friend Killed in Mexico." The Austin American, 1 December 1947, p. 2.

    Berkowitz, Michael and Todd Heidt. “The Life of Mario von Bucovich: Perils, pleasures, and pitfalls in the history of photography.” Photography & Culture, vol. 10, no. 3, 2017. UCL Discovery, accessed 22 February 2021.

    Fernández, Horacio, editor. New York in Photobooks. RM Verlag, 2016.

    Jiménez, Belén García. “Florence Henri y la mujer ibicenca.” Imatge i turisme, special issue of Estudis Baleàrics, edited by Institut d’Estudis Baleàrics, no. 94–95, 2008, pp. 47–57.

    Köhn, Eckhardt. “Ich bin teuer.” Wer war Mario von Bucovich? (Fotofalle, 1). Edition Luchs, 2014.

    Scheffler, Karl. "Kunstausstellungen.“ Kunst und Kultur, vol. 26, no. 3, 1927, p. 114.

    Word Count: 138

  • Author:
    Helene Roth
  • Exile:

    Paris, France (1931–July 1932); Spain (July 1932–March 1934); London, UK (1934–1935); New York, US (1935–1939); Mexico City, Mexico (1939–1947).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    687 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, US (residence and studio?, 1935–1939).

  • Metropolis:
    New York
  • Helene Roth. "Mario Bucovich." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2948/object/5138-9613247, last modified: 07-02-2022.
  • Rudy Burckhardt
    PhotographerFilmmakerPainter

    Rudy Burckhardt was a Swiss-born photographer, filmmaker and painter who emigrated from Basle to New York City in 1935. He was well networked within the emerging Abstract Expressionist art scene of 1940s' and 50s'.

    Word Count: 33

    Rudy Burckhardt, Selftportrait, New York 1937 (© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021).
    Announcement for an exhibition by Rudy Burkhardt at the Photo League Gallery in Brooklyn Eagle, 30 September 1948, p. 18.Jaqueline Judge. “Rudi Burckhardt … photographer of everyday life.” Popular Photography, January 1949, pp. 52–53 (Photo: Helene Roth).Rudy Burckhardt, Portrait of the painter Willem de Kooning, New York 1937/38 (© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021).Rudy Burckhardt, Building Front Detail with Acanthus Molding in Doorway, New York City, 1938 (© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021).
    New York
    Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs
    Photobook

    Manhattan Magic is a photobook which was published in 1937 by the German émigré photographer Mario Bucovich in New York City.

    Word Count: 20

    Cover of Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing, 1937.
    First page of Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 8–9.“Looking from the 17th floor of the Irving Tower at No. 1 Wall Street. In the center is the Singer Building, forty-five stories high, and in 1910 the highest tower in Manhattan.” Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 30–31.Pennsylvania and Central Station in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 46–47.The Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 28–29.City Hall columns and Woolworth Building in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 32–33.Skyscrapers shadows with a view on 60 Wall street tower and Irving Trust Company in Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 18–19.Last page of Manhattan Magic. A collection of eighty-five photographs by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1937, pp. 46–47.Cover of Washington D.C. by Mario Bucovich, M.B. Publishing Company, 1936.
    New York
    New York
    BookPhotobook

    In 1932, after her remigration to Vienna, the Austrian journalist Ann Tizia Leitich published New York, an account of her life and writing experiences started as an emigrant in New York in the 1920s.

    Word Count: 33

    Book cover of New York , edited by Ann Tizia Leitich, Velhagen & Klasing, 1932 (Archive Helene Roth).
    Ruhepause bei den Grabsteinen der Trinity Church (image by Scherl); Auch ein Platz für Mittagsruhe (image by Jacobi, Berlin); Orangedrink nach heißer Bahnhfahrt (image by Ewing Galloway, N.Y); Ein Fünfcentstück öffnet die Drehtür zur Untergrundbahn (image by Ewing Galloway, N.Y), published in Leitich 1932, pp. 16–17 (Archive Helene Roth).Medical Center, die größte Klinik der Welt (am oberen Hudson) (image by Presse-Photo, Berlin); Tausendäugige Häuserfront (image by Jacobi, Berlin), New York, published in Leitich 1932, pp. 48–49 (Archive Helene Roth).Hafen-Romantik und Wolkenkratzer (image by Jacobi, Berlin) and Schönheit der Wolkenkratzer (image by E.O. Hoppé, Mauritius) in New York, published in Leitich 1932, pp. 14–15 (Archive Helene Roth).Das arme New York (image by Jacobi, Berlin); Trödelladen im Italienerviertel (image by Scherl) New York, published in Leitich 1932, pp. 56–57 (Archive Helene Roth).Dachgarten; Sitzplatz; Terrassengarten (images by Richard Averill Smith, New York), New York, published in Leitich 1932, pp. 38–39 (Archive Helene Roth).
    New York
    Chinatown U.S.A.
    Photobook

    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

    Cover of Chinatown U.S.A., by Elizabeth Coleman (The John Day Company, 1946).
    Front page of Chinatown U.S.A, edited by Elizabeth Coleman, The John Day Company, 1946 (Archive Helene Roth)."Learning to read and write English in Public school ... and Chinese in Chinese school." Chinatown U.S.A., by Elizabeth Coleman (The John Day Company, 1946).Last page of Chinatown U.S.A., by Elizabeth Coleman (The John Day Company, 1946).Review of Chinatown U.S.A. in The Pittsburg Press, 25 August 1946, p. 46.Review of Chinatown U.S.A in Popular Photography, October 1946, p. 184.
    New York
    Pantheon Books
    Publishing House

    Pantheon Books was a publishing house founded in 1942 by the German émigré Kurt Wolff (1887–1963) and aimed at the exiled European community in New York.

    Word Count: 24

    Pantheon Books sign (© Fred Stein Archive).
    Cover of 5th Avenue photobook (Pantheon Books, 1947) by Fred Stein (© Fred Stein Archive).First page of 5th Avenue (Pantheon Books, 1947) by Fred Stein (© Fred Stein Archive).Page of 5th Avenue (Pantheon, 1947) by Fred Stein.Last page of 5th Avenue (Pantheon Books, 1947) by Fred Stein (© Fred Stein Archive).Page from Fred Stein’s scrapbook showing Pantheon Books Catalogue (Fall 1946, Spring 1947), which includes 5th Avenue (© Fred Stein Archive).Announcement by Pantheon Books from Fred Stein’s scrapbook (© Fred Stein Archive).Mixed articles and reviews on 5th Avenue photobook form Fred Stein's scrapbook (© Fred Stein Archive).Portrait of Kurt Wolff (of publishing house Pantheon Books) by Fred Stein, 1959 (© Fred Stein Archive).Cover of the French edition 5th Avenue (Querido, 1947) by Fred Stein (© Fred Stein Archive).
    New York
    Leon Trotsky
    Politician

    Banished by Stalin, the revolutionary politician Leon Trotsky and his entourage arrived in Istanbul in 1929. He settled on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara.

    Word Count: 31

    Trotsky at his desk, Büyükada, 1931, detail (Heijenoort 1978, 15).
    Trotsky at his desk, Büyükada, 1931 (Heijenoort 1978, 15).Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, residence and exile domicile of Leon Trotsky on Büyükada, 1932/1933 (Heijenoort 1978, 10).Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, Büyükada, 1932–33, view from the cul-de-sac (Heijenoort 1978, 10).Trotsky and entourage on a boat trip, Büyükada, around 1931–33 (Heijenoort 1978, 12).Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, Büyükada, site of the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015 (Photo: Burcu Dogramaci).Adrián Villar Rojas’ installation The Most Beautiful of All Mothers at the Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, Büyükada, as part of the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015 (Photo: Burcu Dogramaci).
    Istanbul