(Last Updated On May 24, 2022)
Ernst Haas (1921–1986) is one of the most important photographers of the 20th Century and was one of the pioneers of color photography. Born in Austria, he later established himself in the US. As a photojournalist, one can come across some of the most unusual scenes. Christian found this image but didn’t know which one had the correct contrast so I offer both.
The contrast here in another sense of the word is significant.
In the foreground are these presumably happy nude children with their mother, enjoying the outdoors. But behind them are bombed-out buildings which are the scars of World War II, which at that time had only recently ended.
This image reminds me of my childhood when I was between 5-7 yo and sometimes had sunbathing with my grandmother. Like the image, she was wearing a swimming suit and I was in the nude.
I have similar memories, but this also depends on our background and the place we grew up. In Europe, the nudity of children until the onset of puberty has not been controversial at all, and stark naked kids in such places as public beaches or picnic areas in city parks for many years were norm rather than exception. Additional reason for exposing as much skin as possible was that for much of the first half of the 20th century, extensive “sun ray” therapy was prescribed for children for a wide range of maladies, from chest infections to anemia (before the direct link between between exposure to UV light and skin cancer was proved). What is striking in this beautiful photograph is the contrast between the serene scene of sunbathing and the ruined post-war city in the background.
Finally, I have found a better copy of the picture here: