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Liselotte Billigheimer Grschebina

By 13th December 2022May 23rd, 2023No Comments

Liselotte studied painting and graphic design at her local art academy – Badische Landeskunstschule, Karlsruhe (BLK) – and took up the then–new course in advertising photography at the School of Applied Arts in Stuttgart.

A proponent of the New Vision of the Bauhaus school, she experimented with striking angles and strong diagonals, making use of reflections. Like many Bauhaus photographers, she trialled techniques such as collage and double exposure. She also used fabrics and mirrors to create dramatic portraits and still lives.

In January 1932, Liselotte opened her own studio, Bilfoto, where she specialised in child photography. She started training students, but with the Nazi rise to power and the work restrictions placed on Jews from 1933, she was forced to close her studio.  She emigrated to Israel in March 1934 and opened the Ishon childrens portrait studio on Allenby Street with her childhood friend Ellen Rosenberg (Auerbach) (1906–2004), previously a partner in the Berlin photographic studio ringl + pit. As in that partnership, with Grete Stern (19041999), they worked in commercial photography – but only until 1936 when Ellen left the country. Liselotte then continued to work from home using her kitchen as a darkroom, working  for the Palestine Railwayskibbutzim, in advertising, and in sports photography.

In 1934, Liselotte  was appointed the official photographer for the Zionist women’s organisation WIZO where she was affiliated until 1947. In 1939, together with fellow German refugee photographers, she established the Palestine Professional Photographers Association (PPPA). Her powerful industrial photo of a woman at work, Primazon worker Netanya c.1937, was featured in the 2021 National Gallery of Art/Metropolitan Museum of Art publication New Woman behind the Camera.

Her archive of 1,800 photographs was discovered after her death and donated to the Israel Museum by her son, Beni Gjebin.

By Paula Vellet