Nini & Carry Hess. Gertrude Fuld

Theater Photography in the Weimar Republic

Exhibition at the German Theatre Museum in Munich | November 11, 2022 to March 08, 2023

+++++ German Photo Book Award 21/22 in the category "Conceptual-Artistic Photo Book" in silver for the exhibition catalog on Nini and Carry Hess +++++

With the photographers Nini (1884-1943) and Carry Hess (1889-1957), the Museum Giersch of the Goethe University presented two outstanding Frankfurt artists of the Weimar Republic from March to May 2022 - two photographers who worked together with Ullstein in Berlin for many years. The exhibition, with around 180 original photographs, provides for the first time a differentiated overview of the biography and work of the Frankfurt sisters, whose lives and careers were destroyed by the National Socialists because of their Jewish origins. The focus is on portrait and theater photography, alongside works from the fields of dance, nude, fashion and architectural photography.

The exhibition commemorates two photographers whose studio on Börsenstraße was one of the most prestigious in Germany. The two sisters founded the studio in 1913 and specialized in portrait photography. They found their clientele primarily among the upper middle classes of Frankfurt's urban society.

Equipped with a general contract with the city of Frankfurt, the Hess sisters also captured the stage events of those years in a large number of scene photos and role portraits. They also produced numerous civilian portraits of stage stars such as Heinrich George, Fritta Brod, Constanze Menz and Gerda Müller, as well as of famous dancers such as Mary Wigman, Niddy Impekoven and Anna Pavlova.

The quality of their photographs and their good networking in artistic circles ensured that they regularly photographed for leading magazines such as the "Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung", the "Querschnitt" or the "Uhu" - the publications of the Ullstein publishing house in Berlin. Illustration commissions for the women's supplement of the "Frankfurter Zeitung" followed. Prominent figures such as Carl Zuckmayer, Alfred Döblin, Thomas Mann, Max Beckmann, Paul Hindemith, Ferdinand Kramer and C. G. Jung had their portraits taken by Nini and Carry Hess.

During the Reichsprogromnacht in 1938, members of the SA completely destroyed the studio as well as the sisters' picture archive. In 1942, Nini Hess and her mother were deported and presumably murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. Carry Hess had emigrated to Paris in 1933. After the liberation, her attempt to work there again as a photographer failed. Her last phase of life was marked by the humiliating struggle with the German authorities for financial compensation.

(Text: Museum Giersch of the Goethe University, Frankfurt)

In consideration of three female theater photographers of the Weimar Republic - Nini & Carry Hess and Gertrude Fuld - the newly conceived exhibition will be on view at the German Theater Museum in Munich from November 2022.

The exhibition catalogue Die Fotografinnen Nini und Carry Hess is published by Hirmer Munich, with essays by Katrin Bomhoff, Heike Drummer, Roland Jaeger, Eckhardt Köhn, Miriam Szwast. Contribution on "Frankfurt-Berlin: Nini and Carry Hess at Ullstein - Photographs from the ullstein bild collection", pp. 169-177, by Dr. Katrin Bomhoff, ullstein bild / Axel Springer Syndication.

In the gallery you will see a selection of original photographs by Nini and Carry Hess from the ullstein bild collection.

You can find the entire collection at


Dr. Katrin
Senior Manager Asset & Exhibition
+49 30 2591 73164