ringl+pit

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Small Wonders
July 6 – August 25, 2006

Ellen Auerbach and Grete Stern met in 1929 while they were studying photography with Walter Peterhans, the first photography professor at the Bauhaus school in Germany. Together, they sought to challenge the expectations of their class, culture, and gender, establishing an advertising photography studio during the fragile political climate of the Weimar Republic. The name of the studio was derived from their respective childhood nicknames, ringl (Grete) and pit (Ellen). Pioneers in their field, Auerbach and Stern embraced the spirit of social liberation, economic upheaval, and mass media, becoming recognized for the subtle subversion of conventional depictions of women in advertising. International prizes followed quickly on the heels of their financial success. However, their collaboration was cut short when the Nazis rose to power, forcing the two friends to flee Germany—Grete to England and Ellen to Palestine. The circumstances of the war separated them for ten years. Ellen Auerbach traveled extensively, settling in New York City and continuing her artistic career. Grete Stern made Buenos Aires her new home and became one of the most influential figures in photography in Argentina. Auerbach and Stern remained lifelong friends. A documentary on their lives, completed in 1995 by Juan Mandelbaum, attracted widespread acclaim and sparked a resurgence of public interest in their work.