Yva, A Pioneer of the Fashion Nude


Before Helmut Newton was snapping his signature erotica, he was once an assistant to German fashion photographer Yva (1900-1942).

The uniquely named photographer was born Else Neulander in Berlin to a working-class Jewish family. Twenty-five years later she became Yva and opened a photography studio in the fashionable Kurfürstendamm district. Through a modernist perspective, she captured surrealist compositions of stylish women and artistic nudes. Yva’s work was so eye-catching that Berlin’s fashion elite sought out her photographs for their publications and advertisements.

Dancer Tatjana Barbakoff, 1929

Yva’s career ended after the political rise of the Nazis. In 1942, she and her husband were arrested and sent to a death camp. A set of stolperstein (stepping stone) have been placed in front of their former home at Schlüterstraße #45 to honor the couple’s legacy.

For more on Yva, check out Yva: Photographies 1925-1938 by Elisabeth Moortgat and Marion Beckers or Fashioning Jews: Clothing, Culture, and Commerce by Leonard J. Greenspoon.

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