Vishniac Roman
Grandfather en granddaughter

Roman Vishniac

About the artist

1897 — 1990 

Roman Vishniac was a Russian-American humanist photographer, biologist and art historian. Born in the late days of the Russian Empire, Vishniac, who was Jewish, was commissioned in the mid-thirties by a Jewish relief organisation based in New York to document Jewish culture across Eastern Europe (although of some 16,000 negatives, only two thousand would make it to the US). The photos that did return with Vishniac would go on to be published in the book A Vanished World (1983), catapulting Vishniac to considerable acclaim while providing a candid window into working-class Jewish life in Europe prior to the Holocaust.

A 1942 portrait of Albert Einstein, shot by Vishniac in New York, became one of the best-known images of both artists. Vishniac remained energetic deep into later life, continuing to amass an impressive collection of artifacts from global art history, while teaching Russian art and philoshophy at various institutions. 

Vishniac's body of work was heavily exhibited during his lifetime, including three photographs curated to feature in MoMA's The Family of Man, which toured the world for eight years from 1955. Vishniac died in 1990. In 2013, a career retrospective exhibit, Roman Vishniac Rediscovered, spent three years on tour, with stops in Warsaw, Amsterdam, Paris and New York.

Technical information

Image 1: Grandfather en granddaughter
Print techique: gelatin silver