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The Man Who Shot Beautiful Women

Sun May 19, 9-10pm, BBC4

Erwin Blumenfeld has shot more Vogue covers than any other photographer. He’s the genius behind their iconic 1950 ‘eyes and lips’ cover, yet he’s practically unknown. Only a small portion of Blumenfeld’s prints has been seen by the public, but this BBC4 documentary beautifully brings more to light.

The opening shot is of Rome’s busy streets back in 1969: having stopped taking his heart medication, Blumenfeld ran up and down the Spanish Steps until he keeled over and died. Why? We’re about to find out.

His story is compelling: a German Jew who survived both World Wars and finally became a successful photographer at the age of 44. However, the story of the evolution of photography into an accepted art form and the changes in society from the turn of the twentieth century, illustrated by stock footage, is also spellbinding. The doc is enjoyable whether you have an eye for art or not – even the untrained viewer will fall head over heels for Blumenfeld’s work.