Ursula Arnold


Having received a practical training in photography from 1948 to 1950, Ursula Arnold (German, 1929–2012) went on to study photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (Academy of Graphic Design and Book Design, short HGB) in Leipzig from 1950 to 1955. After obtaining her diploma, she worked as a freelance photographer in Leipzig. In 1956 she moved to Berlin, becoming the first camerawoman at the Dramatic Art department of a TV production company, allowing her to privately pursue her photographic career. Between 1956 and 1957 she was a member of action fotografie, a group of young artists who were trying to free photography from the government’s oppressive dictates. However, in the entire forty years of the GDR’s history Ursula Arnold only exhibited a handful of her photographs publicly. In her work, Arnold revealed life as it showed itself to her in the streets of Leipzig and Berlin, without embellishment. The situations that she captured convey a universal mood, a feeling of disillusionment and intimate melancholia far from the government’s idealized utopian vision. In 2002 she was awarded the prestigious Hannah-Höch-Prize for a lifetime of achievement in the arts by the Berlin Senate.