In episode 100 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed reflecting on the past, present and future of photography.
Plus this week Grant revisits a conversation he had in 2012 with legendary photographer and filmmaker Wolfgang ‘Wolf’ Susitsky at his Little Venice, London apartment when Susitsky was 100 years of age.
Vienna born Wolfgang ‘Wolf’ Suschitzky, was a documentary photographer, as well and cinematographer perhaps best known for his collaboration with Paul Rotha in the 1940s and his work on the, classic 1971 film Get Carter. His sister was the photographer and spy Edith Tudor-Hart. Suschitzky’s first love was zoology, but he realised he could not make a living in Austria as a zoologist, he studied photography at the School of Design and Graphic Arts in Vienna. The political climate in Austria was changing and being a Socialist and of Jewish origin, Suschitzky left for London in 1934 where his sister had already moved. Suschitzky married a Dutch woman, and they moved to the Netherlands where he photographed postcards for newsagents. His wife left him a year later, which he said was great luck because if he had stayed there, he wouldn’t have survived the Nazi occupation. He returned to England in 1935, and began working as a film cameraman for Rotha, with whom he had a long working relationship. In 1940 he held his first exhibition – of animal pictures – in London and published his first book, the “how to” guide Photographing Children, which was followed by Photographing Animals a year later. Suschitzky became increasingly interested in themes prompted by Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man exhibition in 1955, and set out to explore how “people are different the world over, and everywhere the same”. His work for Geographical magazine extended into series on the daily lives of people in Burma, Thailand, Yemen, Ethiopia and India. Photography Year Books printed annually in the 1950s and 60s frequently included his images and The World Exhibition of Photography included his work in What Is Man? (1964) and Woman (1968). By the 1980s, Suschitzky was also working in television commercials and was the cinematographer for the children’s series Worzel Gummidge (1980-81). In the same decade he began to receive somewhat belated recognition for his photography, in the Art in Exile exhibition in the UK and exhibitions at the Photographers’ Gallery, the Camden Arts Centre and Zelda Cheatle Gallery. More recent publications include the retrospective Wolf Suschitzky Photos (2006), and Wolf Suschitzky Films (2010). Seven Decades of Photography appeared in 2014, the same year he was granted an honorary doctorate at the University of Brighton.Suschitzky’s photography enjoyed a renaissance this century, with his inclusion in a number of group shows, not least Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-80 at Tate Britain in 2012. Suschitzky died in October 2016 at the age of 104 in London.
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Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His book New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019.
© Grant Scott 2020