9 May 1904
Wuppertal-Elberfeld, German Empire
|Died||24 December 1999
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Grete Stern (9 May 1904 – 24 December 1999) was a German (later nationalized Argentine) photographer. Like her husband, she helped modernize the visual arts in Argentina, and in fact presented the first exhibition of modern photographic art in Buenos Aires, in 1935.
The daughter of Frida Hochberger and Louis Stern, Stern was born on May 9, 1904, in Elberfeld, Germany. She often visited family in England and attended elementary school there. After reaching adulthood, she began studying graphic arts in the Kunstgewerbeschule, Stuttgart, from 1923 to 1925, but after a short term working in the field she was inspired by the photography of Edward Weston and Paul Outerbridge to change her focus to photography. Relocating to Berlin, she took private lessons from Walter Peterhans.
There, she met fellow student Ellen Auerbach, with whom she later shared a critically acclaimed, prize-winning Berlin-based photography and design studio, opened in 1930 with equipment purchased from Peterhans. Intermittently between April 1930 and March 1933, Stern continued her studies with Peterhans at the Bauhaus photography workshop in Dessau, where she met the Argentinian photographer Horacio Coppola. The political climate of Nazi Germany led her to emigrate with her brother to England, where Stern set up a new studio, soon to resume her collaboration there with Auerbach.
Stern first traveled to Argentina in the company of her new husband, as she had married Horacio Coppola in 1935. The newlyweds mounted an exhibition in Buenos Aires at Sur magazine, which according to the magazine, was the first modern photography exhibition in Argentina. After a brief return to England, Stern settled in Argentina to raise a family, her daughter Silvia and her son Andrés, remaining even after she and Coppola divorced in 1943. In 1958, she became a citizen of Argentina.
Stern and Coppola ran a studio together from 1937 to 1941. Around the time of the divorce, Stern began exhibiting individually, including internationally, starting in the 1970s, returning particularly to her native country to exhibit in 1975 and 1978. She provided photographs for magazine and served for a stint as a photography teacher in Resistencia at the National University of the Northeast in 1959. From 1956 until 1970, she was in charge of organizing and directing the photography workshop of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
In 1985, she retired from photography, but lived another 14 years until 1999, dying in Buenos Aires on 24 December at the age of 95.
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