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The Roaring ‘20s Through The Eyes Of A Woman Photographer

The Roaring ‘20s through the eyes of Madame d’Ora.

Posted on January 31, 2021, at 7:01 a.m. ET

Dora Kallmus, who was professionally known as Madame d'Ora, was a Jewish society photographer born in Vienna at the end of the 19th century. At a time when most women did not own or know how to operate a camera, she became a highly sought-after woman photographer in a male-dominated field.

She photographed many great artists and dancers of the day, from all over the world — including Pablo Picasso and Josephine Baker. The first woman photographer to open her own studio in Vienna, she relocated to Paris and immersed herself in fashion photography until the Nazis seized the city 15 years later. When Kallmus was forced into hiding, she lost many close friends and family members in concentration camps.

Kallmus continued photographing after the war until her death in 1963, but her most compelling work is her glamorous and carefully composed photographs of friends and celebrities, which show us even today the decadence and splendor of a young generation of artists coming into their own after the First World War.

We look at one woman’s view of the Roaring ‘20s as we enter a new decade over a hundred years later, with global fascism on the rise once more.

Imagno / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Imagno / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images

Josephine Baker

Madame d'Ora (Dora Kallmus) / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Imagno / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images

Josephine Baker, 1927

Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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