History's Shadow: Emil Otto Hoppé

  Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972) was a major figure in photography in Great Britain and Europe, particularly between 1907-1939.

As a renowned commercial portrait photographer of his time, he captured hundreds of personalities in the arts, politics and literature. In addition, he photographed landscapes and documented his extensive travels throughout Europe. His success and stature rivaled those of his contemporaries such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Walker Evans.

So why is lesser known today than his peers?

In 1954, nearing the end of his career, he sold his archive to a London picture library. Hoppe’s images were filed by subject rather than by author. The content of his archive was unidentifiable by the photographer's name. Most photo history texts had, for the most part, not been written yet. And the nature of his archive would all but guarantee his obscurity from research by photography historians in the coming decades.

In the 1990’s, Curatorial Assistance, Inc, a California based museum services company, began a decade-long project of organizing, cataloging, and digitizing the contents of the Hoppé archive buried in the library. The contents were examined by curators and photo historians, and his place as a leading figure in early photo-modernism was re-established.

For a look at his extraordinary output: http://www.eohoppe.com/