The Automotive Photographic Art of Zoltan Glass

A photograph of a driver sitting at side of the Nürburgring course, reading a newspaper, his Bugatti racer next to him. Zoltan Glass  c. 1931.

In a post on TTAC about an exhibit of automotive photographic art sponsored by Mercedes Benz, Bertel Schmitt posted a photo by Zoltan Glass, an amateur racer and professional photographer who shot many of the major racing events in Germany in the 1930s as well as shooting commercial photography for clients like Mercedes Benz, Horch and Auto Union. Glass was a Jew and things started getting difficult for him after the National Socialists came to power, though he doggedly worked on, ironically doing advertising photo shoots with cars sitting next to Nazi planes, and covering races and motoring events partially sponsored by the party. After the Nuremberg laws were passed in 1936, severely restricting Jews, an associate of Glass’ from the J. Walter Thompson agency, Peter de Peterson, helped him move his base of operations to London, from where he managed his Berlin based photographic agency. Glass continued to travel to Germany to shoot advertising for clients like Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union and Horch. After Kristalnacht in 1938, and Jews were prohibited from running or owning businesses, Glass permanently relocated to London, taking all of his photographic negatives with him. He struggled for a while but eventually got established working for ad agencies and magazines. Many photographers who would find later success started off using his studio in exchange for a royalty on the photos they created there. He ended up mentoring a generation of British commercial photographers. His work for a risque British magazine led to a lucrative side career in “naturist” photography. Surprisingly, Zoltan Glass never took up an interest in British motorsports and his commercial work had almost nothing to do with cars. Glass died in 1981 and left his archive of negatives to the British National Media Museum, which has digitized the photos. You can seem more of his work at the Museum’s web site, but I’ve included a nice selection of his racing and automotive advertising work in the gallery below.

Gallery after the jump.

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One Response to The Automotive Photographic Art of Zoltan Glass

  1. Pingback: Zoltán Glass ( 1903 – 1982) | La Petite Mélancolie

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