Fritz Brill

1904–1997

Fritz Brill (1904-1997) was trained as a merchant, but went on to study at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) as well as at the private art school founded by Johannes Itten in Berlin. A self-taught photographer, from 1930 onwards Brill earned his living with photography. After 1945 he lived close to Kassel, where his art photography came into being. In these series of photographs, taken between 1945-1949, he juxtaposed natural forms and artificial objects. Arnold Bode, who later founded the Documenta, exhibited these images in the Hessische Landesmuseum in Kassel already in 1949.
From 1950 onwards Brill focused on advertising, opening his own studio. He developed a technique that differed from photomontages in the classical sense, creating synthetic images with a highly intricate system of backlit image layers and retrojections. Brill could thus be considered to have developed a prototype of “photoshop” techniques with analogue means. In 1951 he also used film and his studio was one of the leading studios for slow motion and high-speed photography. He worked as a director of photography for various animation films, mostly in documentary and industrial settings. In 1957 he won the German Filmpreis (Film Prize) for one of his color film projects.