Nini & Carry Hess (*1884/*1889 GER), Römerbergfestspiele view from cathedral, „Jungfrau von Orleans“, 1933, © ZEISS Archiv, Jena

Nini & Carry Hess (*1884/*1889 GER), Alexander Rumnev, 1923, © Galerie Berinson, Berlin

Nini & Carry Hess (*1884/*1889 GER), Frauenporträt („Ärztin“), 1920-1930, © Felix Jork/ Berlinische Galerie

The Photographers Nini and Carry Hess
22 August – 5 December 2021
Opening: 22 August 2021, 11 am

Nini (*1884 DE–1943?) and Carry Hess (*1889 DE– †1957 CH) — two outstanding photographers of the Weimar Republik —are the focus of an exhibition to be presented by the Museum Giersch der Goethe-Universität. Today all but forgotten, the studio founded by the two sisters in Frankfurt’s Börsenstrasse in 1913 was once one of the most prestigious in Germany. Celebrities such as Max Beckmann, Alfred Döblin, Paul Hindemith, Thomas and Katia Mann, and Mary Wigman all had their pictures taken by the two portrait-photograph specialists. Nini and Carry Hess were appreciated especially for their ability to counter fine-art photography’s tendency towards stylization with a highly individualized, psychologically sensitive approach moderately adapted to the avant-gardist current of Neues Sehen, or New Vision.

The two sisters’ contacts in Frankfurt’s theatre milieu were decisive for their work: in production photos and role portraits, they documented the innovative events taking place on the city’s stages. A major source of income was moreover the regular publication of their photographs in books, newspapers, and the illustrated magazines that shaped the visual culture of the Weimar Republic.

Featuring some 120 original photographs, the exhibition will be the first to offer nuanced insights into the life and work of the two women, whose biographies and careers were destroyed by the National Socialists on account of their Jewish descent. In addition to portrait and theatre photographs, the show will also present dance shots and nudes as well as representative examples of contemporary pictorial media.

This exhibition will shed light on an important but hitherto unexplored chapter in the cultural life of Frankfurt am Main and the contributions made by women to culture in the Weimar Republic and restore it to the collective memory. The results of the in-depth research underlying this project represent an enrichment to the history of German photography of the interwar period and document the significance of scholarship and research for our culture of remembrance.

The exhibition is being curated by Eckhardt Köhn and Susanne Wartenberg.

Museum Giersch der Goethe-Universität
Schaumainkai 83, 60596 Frankfurt am Main

6 Euro / 4 Euro (reduced)

Opening hours
Mon closed
Tue - Sun 10 am - 6 pm
Thu 10 am - 8 pm