Gertrude Fehr

The photographer Gertrude Fehr, born in Mainz (Germany) in 1885, is part of the first generation of professional women photographers. After an apprenticeship in a Munich studio, she opened her own studio in 1918 where she employed up to six people. In 1933, the political situation forced Gertrude Fuld to leave Germany with her future husband, the Swiss painter Jules Fehr (1890-1971). The couple settled in Paris and opened the Publiphot school in 1934, of which she became the director. The school formed students in the art of advertising photography, of which Publiphot was a pioneer. In Paris, Gertrude Fehr was also close to the New Photography movement. She experimented with different techniques – solarization, the photogram, photomontage, etc. – and exhibited her work alongside the great photographers of her generation such as Laure Albin Guillot, Florence Henri and Man Ray.
At the end of the 1930s, Gertrude and Jules Fehr settled in Switzerland and opened a successful new photography school in Lausanne. The school was transferred to Vevey in 1945 to become part of the Ecole des Arts et Métiers (currently CEPV). Gertrude Fehr can therefore be considered as the founder of the Vevey Photography School. The teaching of color photography that she proposed in 1950 contributed to the school’s reputation in Switzerland as well as abroad. Until 1960, she gave classes in portrait, fashion, advertising and journalistic photography. Monique Jacot, Luc Chessex, Jean-Loup Sieff, Yvan Dalain and Francis Reusser can be counted among her many students.
Upon her death in 1996, Gertrude Fehr bequeathed all of her archives to the Fotostiftung in Winterthur and to the Musée de l’Elysée. The latter includes some 1,500 prints, about one hundred negatives and several archive binders.

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