Fritz Neugass Papers, 1913-1979
- The collection documents the professional life of photographer and journalist Fritz Neugass. The Neugass Papers include published writings, typescripts, clippings, research materials, photographs by Neugass, photographs by others, correspondence, and auction catalogs.
- 60 cubic ft.
- English , German .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Fritz Neugass Papers 1913-1979. M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Neugass Papers).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
Fritz Neugass was a professional photographer and journalist as early as 1926, when he first moved to Paris. He was active almost until the day of his death in 1979. The earliest photographs in the collection (not including his personal family pictures) date from the 1930s (few of these images have specific dates written on them.) The dates for the entire collection of papers and photographs range from 1913 to 1979. There are many gaps in time for this collection, which is to be expected in a set of personal papers.
The basic arrangement of the Neugass Papers was completed by Lotte Neugass prior to their deposit at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections. The collection was divided into two main sections. Section one contains mostly typewritten notes (in German and in English), photographs, books, and clippings from periodicals. This material relates to various museum art exhibits and art auctions that took place from the early 1950s to the 1970s. Other papers discuss the work of well-known artists and styles of art, as well as contemporary news events. Much, if not most, of the above material apparently served as sources for articles that were written by Neugass. The second section, almost exclusively photographs, includes personal family pictures, views in and around New York City, images from his travels overseas (and his days as a photojournalist in the 1930s), studies of patterns and faces, prints by other photographers, and mounted images for his exhibits of images from New York City and Mexico. As few of these prints have any dates, they have been organized largely by subject. There are approximately 4500 original photographs by Neugass in the collection.
- Biographical / Historical:
Fritz W. Neugass (pseudonyms François Neuville and Friedrich Brenatano) was born on the 28th of March 1899 in Mannheim, Baden, Germany to a Protestant-Jewish family. In 1917, he finished school in Mannheim with an end examination (an "Arbitur"), which granted him permission to study at a university. During this time, Neugass was briefly a member of the Wandervogel movement. The following year, Neugass volunteered to serve in the Army. His military career was quickly ended when he was buried in rubble after an engagement with the enemy. Neugass spent the rest of the war in an army hospital, and then as a censor for the post office.
From 1919 to 1924, Neugass was a student of Art and Archeology in Heidelberg (1919-1920), Munich (1920), Berlin (1920-1921), and Bonn (1922-1923). He received his Ph.D. in Heidelberg in 1924. Neugass' dissertation discussed Gothic pews, and was printed in Strassburg within a series of art historical studies. Shortly thereafter, Neugass found employment as a lab assistant at the German Archeological Institute in Rome, and at the German Institute for history in Florence. During this time, he participated in many archeological excavations in Italy.
Neugass spent the years 1926 to 1939 as a resident of Paris, where he worked as an art correspondent for German and Swiss newspapers and art magazines, such as Berliner Tageblatt, Vossische Zeitung, Weltkunst, and others. After 1933, his work was no longer accepted in Germany. This led Neugass to work for various American, British, and French periodicals. He often used the pseudonyms François Neuville and Friedrich Brenatano at this time. Much of Neugass' time was spent in the nations around the Mediterranean, where he took a large number of photographs.
In 1939, French authorities labeled Neugass an "enemy alien" and interned him in Antibes and in Les Milles. Neugass later wrote a novel about his experiences in the French detention camps. In 1940, he arrived in Free France (Cannes), and applied unsuccessfully for an American visa through the Emergency Rescue Commission of Varian Fry. Nevertheless, Neugass managed to emigrate to the United states via Casablanca in December 1941 just before a Vichy court found Neugass guilty of "enemy propaganda".
Shortly after his arrival in the U.S., Neugass worked as a swimming instructor and as a nurse. He made various unsuccessful applications to join the U.S. Army or to work in the war industry. While taking night-classes to learn blueprint drawing, Neugass performed volunteer work for the Red Cross of New York City. Not long before the end of the War, Neugass joined the New York City Patrol Corps. He also worked with the Volunteer Service Photographers (who aided paraplegic G.I.'s with photography).
In 1944, Neugass married Lotte Labus, who had earned her own Ph.D in Berlin. Labus and Neugass had met in the U.S. When the War ended, Neugass became a free-lance photographer. He published photos and articles in American and European photo magazines, such as Aufbau, New Yorker, New Yorker Staats- Zeitung und Herold, and Art News. He became a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, and had an exhibition of his work at the Village Camera Club. In 1954, the American Museum of Natural History held an exhibit of several dozen photographs that Neugass had taken in Mexico the previous year.
After 1947, Neugass re-established contact with various German newspapers and magazines, and became a correspondent on the subjects of art, architecture, the art market, and photography. He later became a permanent contributor to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Handelsblatt, and other European art and photography magazines. Neugass often wrote for the American art magazine Art Voices.
In January 1979, Neugass was forced to turn down an offer to act as the American editor for a new German magazine (Art) due to poor health. He passed away in June. A memorial exhibit of Neugass' work was held on the 15th of October 1979 at the Goethe House of New York City.
Exhibits of photography by Fritz Neugass:
1954: American Museum of Natural History exhibit of photographs that were taken by Fritz Neugass in Mexico in 1953.
1959 (July-August): Chautauqua Art Association Gallery exhibit of photographs by Fritz Neugass.
(ca. 1959): Village Camera Club exhibit of photographs that were taken by Fritz Neugass in New York City and in Europe.
1979 (October 15): Goethe House of New York City memorial exhibit of photographs by Fritz Neugass.
Roder, Werner. International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Émigrés (New York: Gale Research Company, 1980): 854.
Telephone interview with Mrs. Lotte Neugass, 8 June 1990.
- Acquisition information:
All items in the collection were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Lotte Labus Neugass on June 20, 1983.
The Neugass Papers have been divided into sixteen series. The first nine series (corresponding to section one of the original Lotte Neugass arrangement) consist of typewritten texts by Neugass in English and German, photographs (not taken by Neugass) used by Neugass to accompany his articles, and clippings used by Neugass in his writing. The series are arranged by subject: Series 1: Art and Artists; Series 2: Museums & Private Collections; Series 3: Art market, art auctions; Series 4: Architecture & Architects; Series 5: Furniture and Design; Series 6: Theater and Film; Series 7: Photography and Photographers; Series 8: General journalistic articles; and Series 9: Articles with text and photos by Neugass. The remaining series include: Series 10: Published writings by Neugass, 1942-1979; Series 11: Early writings (pre-US) of Fritz Neugass, 1930s-1940; Series 12: Documents and biographical materials, 1899-1979; Series 13: Correspondence, 1941-1979; Series 14: Photographs by Fritz Neugass, 1930s-1970s; Series 15: Photographs by other artists; Series 16: Sotheby Parke-Bernet auction catalogs, 1931-1979.
- Processing information:
Processed in 1990 by Dan W. Golden and updated by Sandra Hunt Hawrylchak in 2009.
Exiles' writings, German.
- Neugass, Fritz, 1899-1979.
Village Camera Club.
American Museum of Natural History.
- New York (N.Y.)--Photographs
Cape Cod (Mass.)--Photographs