Ernst Fuhrmann was in the export trade before becoming head of the ethnological department of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen in 1920. The following year he founded the Folkwang-Auriga publishing house devoted mainly to photographic books about nature, flora, and folklore. He employed Albert Renger-Patzsch and Lotte Jacobi among others and published photos of plants and macrophotography in the books Die Welt der Pflanze (Volumes 1-4, 1924–1931) and Die Pflanze als Lebewesen (1930). After the publishing house was closed in 1933 by the National Socialist regime, he continued the photo archive as the Folkwang-Archiv in Berlin. He emigrated to the US in 1938.