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By Jacob Loewentheil
210 pages, hardcover, $55
Published by Skira Rizzoli
rizzoliusa.com

During a time when portraiture was transitioning from posed formality to the spontaneity made possible by new handheld cameras, Marcel Sternberger’s use of psychology to relax his subjects was revolutionary. A full, first-person account of Sternberger’s approach and stories of how he used these techniques to photograph the world’s most compelling individuals—such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Albert Einstein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw and Sigmund Freud—would have been an incredible read. But it was not to be. Sternberger was killed in an automobile accident in 1956, one year before he was to publish a manuscript through E.P. Dutton. The Psychological Portrait offers the next best thing. Drawn from the extensive archive preserved by Sternberger’s widow, Ilse, author Jacob Loewentheil’s volume details the photographer’s mantra and method. The book is illustrated with 125 black and white portraits and anchored within the historic upheavals of the 1930s and 1940s, when Sternberger did most of his work. The strongest sections detail the photographer’s own history and describe his sittings with Shaw, Kahlo and Rivera. Sternberger’s discourse on the portraitist’s role in capturing the true subject on film is still very relevant. —Monica Kass Rogers

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