Ella Bergmann-Michel German, 1896-1971

Born in Paderborn, Germany in 1986, Ella Bergmann-Michel was a German abstract artist, photographer and documentary filmmaker.  From 1917 to 1920 she studied at the Weimar Hochschule für Bildenden Kunste under the German painter Walther Kllemm and set up a studio there in 1918. The following year she married the artist Robert Michel. Together with Michel, Bergmann became one of the first artists of the constructivist movement to pioneer the use of collage using photographs. Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp included both artists work in Société Anonyme, a collection of works by mostly European Dada artists. 


Constructivism took on different meaning across the European nations and referenced social and political circumstances of the artists through abstract means. In Bergmann-Michel’s homeland of Germany, Constructivism perhaps showed its greatest impact through the Bauhaus school, which was central to its development. In 1920 Bergmann-Michel moved to Vockenhausen, near Frankfurt. She concentrated on ink drawings and photo-collages and also incorporated poetry into her abstract compositions; she would paste words of meaning right on top of the canvas, as well as paint. While in Frankfurt she decorated much of the Bauhaus school's minimalist walls. She continued making art until World War II when the pressure of political events made artistic activity extremely hazardous.  In the early 1930s had made several short documentary films, then she devoted herself to agricultural work on her family's property during the Nazi era from 1933 until 1945. 


When the war ended, Bergmann-Michel went back to making art. During the 1950s she gave lectures on the development of modern painting and avant-garde films and in the 1960s continued her development of Prism Pictures. In the later years she continued to make picture collages and vertical/horizontal compositions, none or few of which are titled or signed a fact which may account for why until recent years Bergmann-Michel was one of many key but overlooked artists of Germany during the era.  She died in Eppstein, Germany in 1971.