Lotte Jacobi

Jacobi was the fourth generation of her family to seize a camera to earn a livelihood. In a career that began in the decadent Berlin of the thirties and ended in a simple New Hampshire home, the images she produced — and most especially the portraits — border on the iconic. Throughout her long career, she was irresistibly drawn to artists and writers, musicians, poets and scientists. For over fifty years, she recorded figures who shaped our world and defined the course of the last century. Her portraits of intellectual celebrities like Martin Buber, Käthe Kollwitz, Albert Einstein, May Sarton, and Robert Frost, all done quickly, surely, and with a deceptive simplicity, are masterful in their delineation of character, and their probe for lineaments of intelligence.

Beyond her career in photography, she also served as an official delegate for the arts in Washington, as a mentor to young people, and as an environmental activist. Although there have been previous books about Jacobi, there has never been anything available that compresses her life, her thought, and her most singular images into one affordable volume. Here — drawn from interviews, the material at the Jacobi Archives at UNH, and her own work and words — is a capsule survey of a memorable woman and a career that spanned five decades.

Lotte Jacobi was born in Prussia (now Poland) to a family that had long been involved in the photography industry. When the Nazis rose to power, she moved to the United States, where she established her own portrait business and began experimenting with the form in ways that were brave and novel even in the heyday of experimental photography. The success of this studio allowed her to open her famous studio in New Hampshire, which she maintained from 1955 until her death in 1990. Over the course of her career, Jacobi produced four films and countless photographs, the most famous of which are her sensitive, idiosyncratic portraits of famous figures.

Peter Moriarty has been producing acclaimed photographs for nearly half a century. His prints have been acquired by the permanent collections of the Worcester Art Museum, the Princeton Art Museum, the Yale Art Museum, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, the Addison Gallery, and the Eastman House. He has also taught photography at a wide range of institutions, from the MFA program at Long Island University to private schools in Manhattan. He received his BA at the University of New Hampshire and his MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology.