Our Art / Yva (Else Simon)

Yva (Else Simon)

Yva (Else Simon)

Specializing in fashion and portraiture, Yva (1900–1944) was a German Jewish photographer renowned for her dreamlike, dramatic images. One of the first photographers to recognize photography’s commercial potential, Yva was one of the first photographers who worked in advertising. She staged surreal scenes that recall scenes from motion picture films, often emphasizing the female form in ungendered ways and capturing the sexual revolution of the turn of the 19th century. Her decision to enter the advertising field was itself a challenge to gender roles, which saw men as artists and women as their passive subjects.

Yva's own career was tragically cut short under Nazi rule. As a Jew working in Nazi Germany, in 1936 she was forced to give up her studio; in 1938, no longer allowed to work as a photographer and became an X-ray technician. She died in a concentration camp in 1942.