Zoltán Glass (1903-1981)

Zoltan Glass the Photographer

Self-portrait by Zoltán Glass (1903 – 1981)

Pamela Green modelled for numerous photographers. My favourite by far was Zoltán Glass. He was born in Budapest on April 26, 1903. He began his career as a cartoonist and retoucher for a local newspaper, but in 1925 he moved to Berlin, where he found regular employment as the picture editor of a Berlin evening paper, before moving on to the Berliner Tagblatt as a photojournalist.

Zoltán prospered and was soon able to develop a thriving freelance business as a commercial photographer and journalist. He established Reclaphot, a photographic agency that specialised in advertising work, and Autophot, a company dedicated exclusively to automobile photography. He was an amateur racer and keen motorsport enthusiast while living in Germany and covered the country’s biggest races at the Nurburgring and the Avus circuit, near Berlin. His most famous photos are of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows team, which dominated Grand Prix racing from 1934. With the rise of Hitler, however, business became increasingly difficult for him and he fled to London. However, as an enemy alien at the outbreak of World War II, he was not permitted to pursue his profession and faced the threat of internment, so he voluntarily handed over his camera equipment to the British authorities.

After the war he eke out a living taking publicity stills for clients in the film and theatrical worlds. His career took a big step up when the Hungarian Arpad Elfer who was Creative Director of Colman, Prentis & Varley, one of the most prestigious London ad agencies started giving him work. By the mid-Fifties he was one of the most successful fashion and advertising photographers in London and had had his own studios at 183 Kings Road, Chelsea, and later at 41 Paradise Walk, SW3. One of his clients was Odhams Press who published Lilliput, a pocket-sized gentleman’s magazine that featured an assortment of titillating articles and risqué humour, together with adventurous photographic essays from such well known talents as Bill Brandt and Brassai.

 

Zoltán Glass Mercedes Gullwing Coupe.

A 1961 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing Coupe. One of the few automobile pictures that Zoltán Glass took after the War.

Around this time Zoltán’s brother Stephen had carved out a name for himself taking pictures for Health and Efficiency and other such publications. Pamela Green modelled for him several times at the nudist camp Spielplatz and at his tiny first floor studio in Church Street, Chelsea, but it was Pamela’s agent Pearl Beresford, who sent her along to Zoltán. His studio in the Kings Road was enormous and unlike his brother he was brisk and businesslike. Pamela worked regularly for Zoltán often on complicated sets. They even went down to the Scilly Isles to do nudes on the beach. His passion for nude photography and his creative and innovative approach made him well known, especially in the United States.

By 1964 Zoltán Glass had made enough money to sell his Chelsea studio to a consortium of British photographers and move abroad to a villa in Roquebrune on the French Riviera with his common-law wife Pat, a former cabaret dancer. He offered his collection of pin-up photography to Harrison Marks, who strangely turned him down. He died in France on February 24, 1981, at the age of 78, leaving neither offspring nor a will.

If anyone has some more info on Stephen or Zoltán Glass it would be much appreciated.

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