The pictures I took spontaneously - with a bliss-like sensation, as if they had long inhabited my unconscious - were often more powerful than those I had painstakingly composed. I grasped their magic as in passing
Herbert List was a classically educated artist who combined a love of photography with a fascination for surrealism and classicism. In 1930, though, his artistic leanings and connections to the European avant-garde brought him together with the photographer Andreas Feininger, who introduced his new friend to the Rolleiflex, a more sophisticated camera that allowed a deliberate composition of images.
Under the dual influence of the surrealist movement on the one hand, and of Bauhaus artists on the other, List photographed still life and his friends, developing his style. In 1953, he discovered the 35mm camera and the telephoto lens. His work became more spontaneous and was influenced by his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Italian Neo-Realism film movement.
List died in Munich in 1975. His work is represented in the greatest collection of photography, from the MoMA NY to the V&A in London, The Getty Museum in LA to the Pompidou Center in Paris.