Marianne Breslauer was a German photographer and photojournalist. She belonged to a generation of women photographers who took advantage of the Weimar Republic’s freedoms. She was a pioneer of street photography.
Marianne’s career lasted only a few years; her only surviving portfolio is from 1928 to 1938. In 1929, she traveled to Paris to study with Man Ray for a short time. After a year, she started working for the Ullstein photo studio in Berlin, headed by Elsbeth Heddenhausen, where she mastered darkroom skills. Many leading magazines published her photographs. Breslauer traveled to Palestine and Alexandria in the early 1930s before traveling with Annemarie Schwarzenbach, a Swiss writer, journalist, and photographer she met through Ruth Landshoff, whom she photographed many times. Together, they undertook a photographic assignment for Berlin’s Academia agency in the Pyrenees in 1933. Marianne was confronted by anti-Semitic practices then prevalent in Germany due to this. Despite her Jewish background, her employers wanted to continue publishing her avant-garde photos under a pseudonym. Marianne fled Germany as the Second World War broke out, refusing to yield and publishing her work under a false name. During this period, she admitted she was “done with photography.” She became an art dealer after the war, specializing in French paintings and 19th-century art.
Below are some stunning portraits of tomboys from the 1930s, captured by Marianne. Her subjects dress in soft, slouchy trousers and button-down shirts borrowed from the boys, alluringly liberated and ahead of their time. Despite their long evening dresses, they have a sullen masculine air with the grace and beauty of a swan.