(Germany, United States of America 1902 – 1982)
26.7 x 34.2 cm image; 27.9 x 35.3 cm sheet
‘No camera is useless, however, unless it is out of order. And no camera ever made a picture. There are few tricks involved, mostly it is clean and honest workmanship, patience and a sense for composition and lighting.’ Fred G Korth 1949 1
Fred G Korth was born in Guben, Germany, and went to school in Berlin. In 1926 he emigrated to Chicago and studied photography. By the end of the 1920s he was a member of the Dearborn Camera Club and his photographs were exhibited in the 1930s in photographic salons in America and abroad (especially Japan, Vienna and Madrid). In 1932 he opened his own studio in Chicago and worked until the mid 1960s for major American magazines such as ‘National Geographic’, ‘Newsweek’, ‘Fortune’, ‘Holiday’, ‘Look’ and ‘Popular Mechanics’. ‘Fortune’ was the most important business publication of the 1930s and one of the most beautifully produced, with Margaret Bourke-White as its chief photographer. ‘Popular Mechanics’ was read by 800 000 people between the wars and exemplified the fascination America had for the machine age. Korth photographed the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago and worked as an industrial/advertising photographer for large American companies.
The career of Korth parallels Australian photographers of the same period, for example Cecil Bostock, Russell Roberts, John Lee and Max Dupain. Although a commercial photographer, Korth was clearly interested in developing his own style and exploring new ways of using the camera. He exhibited widely in pictorialist salons and his photographs retained a certain delicacy and subtle soft-focus characteristic of pictorialism, but he was clearly heavily influenced by modernism and the machine age. Korth's photographs of Chicago are remarkable for their celebration of this very modernist city studded with buildings by Walter Burley Griffin, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. The photograph of the downtown bridge, taken from a high angle, resembles a set from the 1927 film ‘Metropolis’ by Fritz Lang.
1. Korth F G 1949, 'The Chicago book: photographs by Korth', Fred G Korth, Chicago p 65
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Anthony Bond, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'International modernism', pg.93-111, Sydney, 2007, 110 (illus.).
Author Unknown, Fred G. Korth: The Chicago Book, 1949. A variation of this image was published on the cover
Architecture and Industry: Werner Mantz, Fred G. Korth and August Sander, Galerie Priska Pasquer, Köln, 19 Sep 2003–19 Oct 2003