Monday, 5 December 2016

Wolf Suschitzky, contributor to Animal and Zoo Magazine in the 1930s, has died aged 104

It is difficult to imagine that a photographer whose work appeared in magazines nearly 80 years ago was alive until a few weeks ago. Wolfgang Suschitzky, the famous cinephotographer and photographer, died on 7 October 2016, aged 104.

Eamonn McCabe's photograph of Wolf Suschitzky
used in the Daily Telegraph obituary of 9 October
 I shall have a lot more to write about Animal and Zoo Magazine published as ‘the official magazine of the Zoological Society of London’ by Odhams from 1936 until it was forced to close by wartime newsprint shortage in 1941. It was part of the attempt made by Julian Huxley, the paid secretary of the Society, to bring the Society and the Zoo into the 20th Century.

Suschitzky fled Austria after the nazi takeover and arrived in London in 1935. His website shows how he became involved with photographing animals at London and Whipsnade:

     …Suschitzky took his first photographs of animals before the War, when working on a series of zoo films as an assistant cameraman. The keepers would cut holes into the wire fencing and accompany him into the enclosures. Things did not always go smoothly: “I had to grab the camera and run for it when a kangaroo attacked me at Whipsnade, and I only just made the fence. But on the whole, the kind of animal photography which I do is fairly peaceful work.” 
     The great appeal of these pictures – they were published in magazines, such as Animal and Zoo Magazine or Illustrated, and later as books and series of postcards – is due to the fact that his photographs are animal portraits, rather than zoological specimen pictures showing four legs and a tail.


Suschitzky's front covers

His obituaries state that Suschitzky’s first interest was in zoology but that he forsook it for photography. He achieved great distinction in both cinephotography (including Get Carter, the 1971 classic from which Tyneside struggles to recover from its bleak depiction) and still photography. His photographs, the series along the Charing Cross Road for example, show that he was, like many zoologists, a people watcher.


His animal photographs from the early years in London were exhibited in 1940. He continued to photograph animals and collaborate with Huxley. Their book, The Kingdom of the Beasts, was published in 1956.

An article from Animal and Zoo Magazine
January 1941 illustrated by Suschitzky's
photographs