Blog post

Herbert List in Greece

20th century photographer inspired by classical antiquity

black and white photograph, portrait of a man who wears a hooded garment
by
Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

Herbert List was a German photographer who was active in the early part of the 20th century. His photographs were published in leading fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.

Born in Hamburg in 1903 in a wealthy family, List began to explore photography in the late 1920s, taking photographs during travels while working for his family's coffee company.

In the 1930s, he turned this interest into a career. In 1936, he was forced to leave Germany due to the Nazi persecution as he was gay and one of his grandparents was Jewish. He moved to Paris with his lover George Hoyningen-Huene and decided to dedicate himself fully to photography.

black and white landscape photograph of a Greek village in mountains

Between 1937 and 1939, he travelled in Greece and Italy with Hoyningen-Huene, taking the photographs seen here. His photographs of temples, sculptures, landscapes and people were published in a book Licht über Hellas ('Light over Greece').

These photographs are in keeping with his aesthetic. After World War II, his photography career continued until the 1960s. Throughout this time, he took black-and-white photographs, often male nudes taken in Italy and Greece, inspired by classical architecture - and today is considered to be a classic modernist photographer.

black and white photograph of man in silhouette walking up steps by a white house
black and white photograph of a white-washed church in Greece
black and white photograph of a small number of classical ruins in a wooded landscape
black and white photograph of sun setting over the sea
black and white photograph, portrait of a man who wears a hooded garment
black and white photograph of a Greek landscape with mountains, houses and sea
black and white photograph of a boy playing a flute while sitting on rocks
black and white photograph of a man who rests his hands on handle of a tool