Yva/Else Ernestine Neuländer-Simon (1900 –1944)
One of the premier fashion and portrait photographers of her day, Else Simon opened her Berlin studio under the name ‘Yva’ in 1925 and specialised in fashion photography which appeared in publications like Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, Die Dame, Elegant Welt, Gebrauchsgraphik and Uhu magazine. She experimented with photomontage and pioneered the photo-essay with a series in Uhu in 1930 showing the ‘New Woman’; the independent, liberated woman of the day, wearing silk stockings, driving automobiles and playing sport.
An example of her innovative advertising work was for Amor Skin, showing her skilful multiple exposure technique which produced surreal, dreamlike images.
Within a year of opening her studio, she had a one-person show at a leading Berlin gallery. At the height of her fame, she employed 10 assistants. Helmut Newton was one of the last apprentices she trained before being forced to close her studio. In 1936, Ullstein, the fashion magazine publisher, was sold to a Nazi organisation that erased Jewish photographers’ names from the archives, along with their royalty agreements.
To make ends meet, Else worked briefly as an x-ray technician in a Jewish hospital before she and her husband were transported and killed in the Majdanek concentration camp in 1944. Most of her negatives were destroyed during the war but some of her studio, magazine and fashion work survives in the Ullstein Bild archive.
In Berlin’s Hotel Bogota at Schlüterstraße 45, which was her last home, Yva’s photos are displayed on the fourth floor, in her former studio.
By Paula Vellet