Anna Riwkin-Brick

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Anna Riwkin-Brick or just Anna Riwkin (Surazh, Chernigov Governorate, Russia 23 June [O.S. 10 June] 1908 -- Tel Aviv 19 December 1970) was a Russian-born Swedish photographer.[1]

Early life[edit]

Portrait of Anna Riwkin-Brick in 1950. Photographer unknown.

Anna Riwkin was born in Gomel into a Jewish family in the Russian Empire and came to Sweden with her parents in 1914. She learned ballet for three years as a child at the Stockholm Whitlockska samskolan School, and danced professionally for some time before an injured foot put an early stop to her career.[2]


She was employed as an assistant to the court photographer Moisé Benkow in 1927, and started her own portrait and dance photography studio in Stockholm in 1928. She married the journalist Daniel Brick in 1929 and marketed her work by displaying portraits of young writers and intellectuals from among her husband's acquaintances.[1]

As a former dancer, she remained interested in dance as a subject of photography[3] and illustrated a book on Swedish dance, Svensk Danskonst, published in 1932 and in the following year her photographs were exhibited in the international exhibition Dance and Movement in Paris.

She later illustrated a book on ballet in 1960, Balettskolan with texts by the choreographer Birgit Cullberg and the dance teacher Lilian Karina Vasarhelyi.[4]


From the 1930s, Riwkin added journalistic work to her repertoire, collaborating on several books with the journalist Elly Jannes and the writer Ivar Lo-Johansson. Her first one-person show was held in 1936 in Kungsgatan in 1936.[2]

After the Second World War, she worked for the Swedish photojournalistic magazine Se, for which she went on numerous trips both within Sweden and to foreign countries, photographing mainly women subjects in Greece, Yugoslavia, USA, Japan, Korea, Israel and India. In 1948 she published a book on Palestine.

From her photojournalistic and travel photography came the work selected by Edward Steichen for his 1955 globally-touring The Family of Man exhibition.[5] One, of a family in the snow in Lapland,[6] is typical of work she was later to publish in children's books, while the other represents a Palestinian woman protesting occupation by Israel.[7][8][9]

Children's picture books with photography[edit]

Riwkin-Brick contributed significantly to the growing use of photographs in children's picture-books, a genre that developed in the second half of the century.[10]

In 1950, with the aim of promoting tolerance by introducing children from different countries to each others' lives,[11] and international understanding through children's literature that would also be read by adults,[12][13] Riwkin-Brick was commissioned by the UNESCO to make a photo book about the Sami people.[14] She persuaded Elly Jannes, a journalist for the journal Vi, to write the text for Vandrande by ('Wandering Village', also released as 'Nomads of the North'), published in 1950.  Anna Riwkin-Brick took many photos of a Sami family’s little girl Elle Kari that were not included in the Vandrande by edition, and Elly Jannes suggested they make another photo book about Elle Kari and to aim it at a child audience which was published in 1951.

It was the first Swedish picturebook with photos of everyday life of a child in a continuous story, and the first of many such books that the photographer was to make. It was a success. Translated into eighteen languages in editions with high print runs;[15] 25,000 copies were printed for the first edition released in Germany, the United Kingdom,[16] and the United States.[5] Riwkin-Brick issued a series of 19 children's books, each focusing on the everyday life of a child in a particular place or country. For nine of these books, Astrid Lindgren wrote the text[17][18][1] and authors for others include Hebrew author Lea Goldberg who contributed the text for Eli bar i  Israel (Eli Lives in Israel, 1964); Cordelia Edvardson, an immigrant from Germany to Sweden and author of the autobiographical novel Briinnt barn (Burnt Child, 1985), wrote the  text for Mirjam bar i Kibbutz (Mirjam Lives in a Kibbutz, 1969);  Riwkin-Brick's sister Eugenie Soderberg penned the text of Makihana (1961); and Vera Forsberg contributed the texts for Gennet bar  i Etiopien (Gennet Lives in Ethiopia, 1967) and Salima bar i Kashmir  (Salimar Lives in Kashmir, 1970). Sales of Riwkin's children's books totalled 900,000 copies.

Photo agency[edit]

In 1960 Riwkin established the photo agency Full Hand with Gösta Glass, Gustav Hansson, Bo Dahlin and Rolf Blomberg.[2]

Her book Medmänniskor ('Fellow Beings'), in which she rephotographed her friends of the 1920s; dancers, artists, gypsies and the Sami child Elle Kari (of her first children's book), was published in 1962.[2]

Award and legacy[edit]

Anna Riwkin-Brick received the Elsa Beskow Medal in 1963, the first time it was awarded to a photographer instead of an illustrator.[5]

Riwkin died in 1970 of cancer in Israel. On the instruction of her will, her photographs were donated to Moderna Museet's Fotografiska Museet in Stockholm.


  • 1936 Anna Riwkin ateljé, Kungsgatan, Stockholm (solo)[2]
  • 1938 Forsners Utsällningshall, Stockholm (solo)[2]
  • 1953 Bankhallen, Stockholm (solo)[2]
  • 1954 Museum Tel-Aviv, Israel (solo)[2]
  • 1955 The Family of Man international travelling exhibition (group)[2]
  • 1957 Barnbilder vid KF's International Kongress (solo)[2]
  • 1968 Stockholms Stadsmuseum, Stockholm[2]
  • 1969 A Trip Around the World, Museum Tel-Aviv, Israel (solo)[2]
  • 1972 Galleri Heland, Stockholm (solo)[2]

Posthumous exhibitions of photographs by Anna Riwkin-Brick were held at the Moderna museet, Stockholm:

  • December 10, 1977—March 5, 1978,[19]
  • February 14—May 23, 2004[20]


  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Jannes, Elly (1950), Nomads of the north, Kooperativa förbundets bokförlag 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-1970; Arvidsson, Karl Axel (1953), Millesgården, Rabén & Sjögren, Veckotidingen Vi 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Jannes, Elly (1956), Elle Kari, Methuen 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002 (1959), My Swedish cousins, Swedish Institute : Rabén & Sjörgen 
  • Lindgren, Astrid; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-1970 (1959), Sia lives on Kilimanjaro, Methuen & Co 
  • Arvidsson, Karl Axel; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-1970; Dancy, Eric; Burke, P. E (1960), Carl Milles and Millesagarden, Raben & Sjogren 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002 (1961), Lilibet, circus child, Macmillan 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Soderberg, Eugénie. Hawaii, a way of life (1962), Hawaii, a way of life, Macmillan Company 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002 (1963), Dirk lives in Holland, Methuen 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002 (1965), Randi lives in Norway, Macmillan 
  • Goldberg, Leah; ‏גולדברג, לאה ‏; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-1970, (illustrator.); ‏רבקין־בריק, חנה ‏, ‏1908־1970 (1966), Harpatḳah ba-midbar, [Tel Aviv] Ha-Ḳibuts ha-meʼuḥad 
  • Bushell, Gerard; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-, (illus.) (1969), Churches of the Holy Land, Cassell, ISBN 978-0-304-93370-9 
  • Lindgren, Astrid; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002 (1965), Gerda lives in Norway, Methuen 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002 (1967), Noy lives in Thailand, Methuen 
  • Edwardson, Cordelia; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-1970 (1970), Miriam lives in a kibbutz, Wheaton, ISBN 978-0-08-006572-4 
  • Forsberg, Vera; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908- (1971), Salima lives in Kashmir, Methuen, ISBN 978-0-416-65340-3 
  • Wine, Maria; Riwkin-Brick, Anna, 1908-1970, (ill.) (1971), Djurkrets. : Dikter av Maria Wine. Bilder av Anna Riukin, Rabén & Sjögren, ISBN 978-91-29-43174-2 
  • Moderna museet (Stockholm, Sweden); Wigh, Leif; Bergman, Ulla; Sidwall, Åke (1977), Fotografer--Curt Götlin, Anna Riwkin, Karl Sandels, Moderna museet/Fotografiska museet, ISBN 978-91-7100-133-7 
  • Riwkin-Brick, Anna; Lindgren, Astrid, 1907-2002; Ó Súilleabháin, Eoghan (1979), Klaas as an Ísiltír, Oifig an tSoláthair 

Publications about Anna Riwkin-Brick[edit]

  • Wigh, Leif; Moderna museet (Stockholm, Sweden) (2004), Anna Riwkin : portrait of a photographer, Moderna museet, ISBN 978-91-7100-699-8 
  • Catalogue of an exhibition at Fotografiska museet, Dec. 10th 1977-March 5th, 1978. Moderna museet (Stockholm, Sweden); Wigh, Leif; Bergman, Ulla; Sidwall, Åke (1977), Fotografer--Curt Götlin, Anna Riwkin, Karl Sandels, Moderna museet/Fotografiska museet, ISBN 978-91-7100-133-7 


  1. ^ a b c Rittsel, Pär: "Riwkin-Brick, Anna", Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 30, pp. 243–246.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Auer, Michèle; Auer, Michel (1985), Encyclopédie internationale des photographes de 1839 à nos jours = Photographers encyclopaedia international 1839 to the present, Editions Camera obscura, ISBN 978-2-903671-06-8 
  3. ^ Melin Fredholm, Ulrika: "Dansfotografi", Moderna museet, Stockholm.
  4. ^ Melin Fredholm; Entry for Balettskolan in LIBRIS.
  5. ^ a b c WESSELING, ELISABETH (2017), Reinventing childhood nostalgia : Books, toys, and contemporary media culture, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-4724-7412-4 
  6. ^ LIFE, 14 Feb 1955, p.135, ISSN 0024-3019, Time Inc.[1]
  7. ^ Steichen, Edward; Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973, (organizer.); Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, (writer of foreword.); Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997, (writer of added text.); Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999, (book designer.); Mason, Jerry, (editor.); Stoller, Ezra, (photographer.); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) (1955). The family of man : the photographic exhibition. Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Simon and Schuster in collaboration with the Maco Magazine Corporation. 
  8. ^ Johannesson, Lena, 1945-; Kanape, Gunilla; Dahlman, Eva, 1947-; Göteborgs universitet; Hasselblad Center (2003), Women photographers : European experience, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, p. 19,56-58, ISBN 978-91-7346-474-1 
  9. ^ Hardt, Hanno; Brennen, Bonnie (1999), Picturing the past : media, history, and photography, University of Illinois Press, p. 226-227, ISBN 978-0-252-02465-8 
  10. ^ Hirsch, J. (1983). Photography in Children's Books: A Generic Approach. The Lion and the Unicorn, 7, 140-155.
  11. ^ Kalman, Y. M. (2017). Open Educational Resources: Policy, Costs, and Transformation. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3) [2]
  12. ^ Van den Bossche, S. (2009). Review" Astrid Lindgren–Werk und Wirkung. Internationale und interkulturelle Aspekte". IRSCL Online Reviews[3]
  13. ^ Huus, H. (1971). Some picture book comparisons. International Library Review, 3(4), 457-468.
  14. ^ Druker, E. (2011). To Mirror the Real: Ideology and Aesthetics in Photographic Picturebooks. In Kümmerling-Meibauer, Bettina, (editor.) (2014), Beyond pippi longstocking : Intermedial and international approaches to astrid lindgren's work, ISBN 978-1-138-84726-2 
  15. ^ Kümmerling-Meibauer, B. (2013). Childhood and Modernist Art. Libri et liberi: časopis za istraživanje dječje književnosti i kulture, 2(1.), 11-28.
  16. ^ Graves, P. (1975). Swedish Children's Books in Britain. Signal, 18, 137.
  17. ^ Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer Der Blick auf das Fremde.Astrid Lindgrens und Anna Riwkin-Bricks Fotobilderbücher. In Blume, Svenja/Kümmerling-Meibauer, Bettina/Nix, Angelika (Eds.): Astrid Lindgrens Werk und Wirkung: interkulturelle und internationale Perspektiven. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. 235-251
  18. ^ Ehriander, H. (2011). Everyday and Exotic. Astrid Lindgren’s Co-operation with Anna Riwkin-Brick.
  19. ^ Moderna museet (Stockholm, Sweden); Wigh, Leif; Bergman, Ulla; Sidwall, Åke (1977), Fotografer--Curt Götlin, Anna Riwkin, Karl Sandels, Moderna museet/Fotografiska museet, ISBN 978-91-7100-133-7 
  20. ^ Anna Riwkin: Porträtt av en fotograf 14 februari 2004 -- 23 maj 2004 "Portrait of a photographer 14 February 2004 -- 23 May 2004", Moderna museet, Stockholm