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Amor Skin: A Surreal Promotional Photograph by Yva

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The vintage print Amor Skin is an example of early promotional photography. In the 1920s, advertisements and posters were still mainly sketched or painted. Photography was considered a factual and informative medium and was used for news and reports. It took surprisingly long to be discovered as an advertising medium.

Advertisement for Skin Cream

This was a promotional photograph for Amor Skin cream, which was made by the Opoterapia company and sold in Berlin. Made with extracts of the subcutaneous tissue of young turtles, the cream promised younger-looking, smooth, rosy skin. It was sold exclusively in special jars shaped like the lamp pictured in the foreground.

Yva, a Master of Surreal Photography

The individual elements of the Amor Skin advertisement were merged into one image using multiple exposure, a technique that was typical of 1920s surreal photography. The advertising and fashion photographer Yva (Else Ernestine Neuländer, 1900–1942) was so skilled at this technique that she was able to expose her photographic plates up to seven times, producing unreal and dreamlike images.

Yva (1900–1942)

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Surrealismus

Surrealism was a movement in literature, painting, film, and photography that emerged in Paris in the 1920s.

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Yva (Else Ernestine Neuländer), Amor Skin, Berlin about 1925–1930; Jewish Museum Berlin

Pioneer of the German Avant Garde

In the 1920s and 1930s, Yva ran a flourishing studio in Berlin with several trainee employees, among them Helmut Newton. Her photographs were published in various well-known magazines and are still considered to have inspired the German avant-garde.

Helmut Newton (1920–2004)

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The Museum of Photography, Part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin State Museums)

At the Museum of Photography, Berlin, the Helmut Newton Foundation has a permanent display of “Helmut Newton’s Private Property” as well as rotating exhibitions of Helmut Newton’s work.

Museum website
Helmut Newton Foundation website

Work Prohibition and Deportation

Yva, who grew up in an Jewish family, was forced to close her studio in 1938 due to the work prohibition (Arbeitsverbot) imposed by the Nazis. She then worked as an X-ray assistant in the Jewish hospital before she and her husband Alfred Hermann Simon were arrested, deported, and presumably murdered at Sobibor in 1942.

Photographer Yva (Else Ernestine Neuländer)
Title Amor Skin
Collection Photography
Location and year of origin Berlin, about 1925–1930
Medium Vintage print, silver gelatine print
Dimensions 27,7 x 22 cm

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Selected Objects: Photographic Collection (6)