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JJK Copy-Art

  • JJK Copy-Art was a photo studio and photofinishing service founded in 1929 by the Jewish Austrian émigré James J. Kriegsmann (1909–1994) and was located at 165 West 46th Street.
  • JJK Copy-Art
  • Photo LabPhoto StudioPhoto Supplier
  • JJK Copy-Art was a photo studio and photofinishing service founded in 1929 by the Jewish Austrian émigré James J. Kriegsmann (1909–1994) and was located at 165 West 46th Street.

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  • Before emigrating in 1929 to New York, James Kriegsmann studied photography in Vienna. He was born in 1909 in Sadagóra, which was part of Austria until the First World War and is today located in Ukraine. Shortly after his arrival in New York he opened the JJK Copy-Art photo studio and photofinishing service at 165 West 46th Street near Times Square and Broadway. JJK stood for his name, James J. Kriegsmann. His photo studio developed into the place where recording artists, big bands and stage and screen stars came to be photographed. His early portraits were theatrical and presented in a pictorialist manner, with decorative frames, though later photographs would be framed with a white border featuring the studio's logo on the right, and, below it, the name of the subject of the photograph.

    From the 1940s, several advertisements for JJK Copy-Art can be found in Billboard magazine, featuring such slogans as “There Is No Business Like Show Business” (Billboard, 11 April 1953, p. 5) or “We Deliver What We Advertise” (Billboard, 3 June 1950, p. 27). In 1943, an announcement was printed apologising for being unable to photograph all the people coming to the studio because of the demands of a U.S. Government contract (Billboard, 17 April 1943, p. 5). Billboard's focus was on music while supporting black musicians and artists – a policy also followed by JJK Copy-Art. James Kriegsmann “was the leader in the New York market for artists‘ publicity photographs that exuded class“ (Broven 2011, 364) and became the photographer of stars like Charles Davis, Bill Robinson, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey, Frank Sinatra and Betty Thornton. African-American artists performed “at a time, when most of the white-owned photo studios refused to work with them” (Mallozzi 2010). It is likely that James Kriegsmann was also in-house photographer at the Cotton Club in Harlem (Hirshey 2002, 52; Gayle 2007, 39). A 1936 brochure on the Cotton Club features eight portraits by James Kriegsmann of artists, dancers and musicians. The nightclub was located between 1923 and 1936 in Harlem, at 42nd Street and Lenox Avenue, and operated during the era of Prohibition and racial segregation. Although the Cotton Club featured many black artists, musicians and dancers, like for example Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ethel Waters and Bill Robinson – all photographed by James Kellermann – the club did not allow entry to black people. Although the Cotton Club was also an important contact hub for émigré artists during the 1920s and 1930s (the émigré photographer Ruth Bernhard visited frequently) it was also criticised for its racial segregation. The Cotton Club allowed entry to all races in 1935.

    James Kriegsmann operated his portrait studio until his death in 1994 and the tradition of photographic portraits was followed by his son James Kriegsmann Jr., who relocated the business to West 56th Street. In 1998 a series of Kriegsmann portraits became part of the Hebrew Home for the Aged permanent collection founded by the German émigré Ralph Baum, the owner of Modernage Photographic Services. (Raynor 1998)

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  • 165 West 46th Street, Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

  • Logo of JJK Copy-Art (Billboard, 26 January 1963, p. 50).
  • Advertisement for JJK Copy-Art in Billboard, 26 January 1963, p. 50.
    Advertisement for JJK Copy-Art with slogan “We Deliver What We Advertise” (Billboard, 3 June 1950, p. 27).
    Advertisement for JJK Copy-Art with slogan “There Is No Business Than Show Business” (Billboard, 11 April 1953, p. 5)
    Apology announcement by James J. Kriegsmann in Billboard, 17 April 1943, p. 5
    935276477145b5588bbab017ca2faef0.jp2Page from a magazine about the Cotton Club with a portrait of Bill Robertson by James J. Kriegsmann (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1936) 2013.46.25.270a-e.
  • Anonymous. “Obituary James J. Kriegsmann; Theatrical Photographer, 85.” The New York Times, 1 May 1994, p. 54. Accessed 24 February 2021.

    Billboard, 17 April 1943, p. 5.

    Billboard, 2 November 1946, p. 10.

    Billboard, 3 June, 1950, p. 27.

    Broven, John. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ʼn’ Roll Pioneers. University of Illinois Press, 2011.

    Gilbert, George. The Illustrated Worldwide Who’s Who of Jews in Photography. G. Gilbert, 1996.

    Hirshey, Gerri. We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock. Groove Press, 2002.

    Mallozzi, Vincent M. “Behind the Lens, Continuing a Legacy.” The New York Times, 10 January 2010. Accessed 24 February 2021.

    Perlman, Michael H. Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park. Arcadia Publishing, 2015.

    Raynor, Vivien. “Form the Famous to the Nameless.” The New York Times, 14 June 1998. Accessed 24 February 2021.

    Robbins, David. Die Kamera glaubt alles / The camera believes everything. Edition Schwarz, 1988.

    Wald, Gayle. Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Beacon Press, 2007.

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  • Helene Roth
  • 1929
  • 1994
  • New York
  • No
  • Helene Roth. "JJK Copy-Art." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 03-03-2022.
  • Pavelle Laboratories Inc.
    Photo LabPhoto Supplier
    New York

    Pavelle Laboratories was found in 1936 by Leo and Carmen Pavelle and operated on East 42nd Street. It was specialised in the development of miniature camera film and one of the first labs working with colour film.

    Word Count: 36

    Service Photo Suppliers Inc.
    Photo Supplier
    New York

    Service Photo Suppliers was a photo supplier distributing a wide variety of photo equipment and opened by the German émigré Hans Salomon (1909–?) in 1945.

    Word Count: 23

    Photo Supplier
    New York

    Spiratone was a photo company and photo supplier founded in 1941 by the Austrian émigré family Hans (1888–1944) and Paula Spira (?–?) and their son Fred Spira (1924–2007).

    Word Count: 24

    Ruth Bernhard
    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

    Modernage Photographic Services Inc
    Photo Lab
    New York

    Modernage Photographic Services was founded in 1944 by the German émigrés Ralph and Leuba Baum and specialised in photofinishing services. In 1954 a second branch, Modernage Custom Darkrooms, was opened.

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