Wolfgang Suschitzky




Collected and exhibited internationally, Wolfgang Suschitzky (1912-2016) is best known for his atmospheric depictions of London in the 1930s and 1940s. A career spanning 70 years, however, also saw the artist work as a successful and prolific cinematographer for documentary and feature films including Ulysses (1967) and Get Carter (1971).

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Early Life

Wolfgang Suschitzky was born to secular Jewish parents in Vienna in 1912. Following a liberal childhood, Suschitzky studied photography at the Höhere Graphische Bundes Lehr und Versuchsanstalt (School of Design and Graphic Arts) in Vienna. As a result of the worsening political climate in his native country, the artist moved briefly to Amsterdam, where he met his first wife Helena Wilhelmina Maria Elisabeth Voûte. After a short period in The Netherlands, upon his wife leaving him Suschitzky left for London, and described his misfortune as ‘great luck because had I stayed there, I wouldn’t be alive anymore, I’m sure.’

Photographic Career

In England, Suschitzky moved amongst the community of émigré artists who lived and worked in Hampstead. Drawn by the relatively low cost of housing, for a short period during the 1930s this area of London was home to the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Surrealists Lee Miller and Roland Penrose, and artists Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore amongst others. In 1939, the artist married Ilona Donath, with whom he had three children.

After an initial interest in Zoology, Suschitzky was influenced by his older sister –  later to become Edith Tudor-Hart – to study and work in photography. His first job was in The Netherlands photographing postcards for newsagents. Upon his return to England, Suschitzky became a film cameraman for Paul Rotha, initially working on government-sponsored information shorts before moving on to feature films. With Rotha, Suschitzky worked on No Resting Place (1951) one of the first British feature films to be shot entirely on location, which was later nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Film. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Suschitzky enjoyed a successful and prolific career in cinematography, which culminated in his collaboration with Mike Hodges on the 1971 film, Get Carter, staring Michael Caine. In total Suschitzky worked on over 200 documentary and feature films. In 2007 the artist was honoured by the BFI with a special film screening for his 95th birthday, and again in 2012 for his centenary.