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Fred Schiffer, Arthur Erickson, Architect

Fred Schiffer, Arthur Erickson, Architect (c. 1963), black-and-white photograph [The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC at Make Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 16-May 31] photo by Fred Schiffer, ©JMABC

Fred Schiffer: Lives in Photos

The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC at MAKE Gallery
Vancouver BC – Apr 16-May 31, 2015

Fred Schiffer, Mirtha Legrand, Argentine Actress

Fred Schiffer, Mirtha Legrand, Argentine Actress (c. 1953), black-and-white photograph [The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC at Make Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 16-May 31] photo by Fred Schiffer, ©JMABC


Fred Schiffer, Unknown Man
Fred Schiffer, Unknown Man (c. 1953), black-and-white photograph [The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC at Make Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 16-May 31] photo by Fred Schiffer, ©JMABC


Fred Schiffer, Jack Wasserman, Vancouver Sun Journalist
Fred Schiffer, Jack Wasserman, Vancouver Sun Journalist (1966), black-and-white photograph [The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC at Make Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 16-May 31] photo by Fred Schiffer, ©JMABC

From the time he arrived in Vancouver in 1958 until his death in 1999, Fred Schiffer was at the cutting edge of portrait photography in Vancouver. During a period of rapid change, he took pictures of many of the city’s leading lights, including architect Arthur Erickson, artist B.C. Binning, actor and author Chief Dan George, Judge Nathan Nemetz, columnist Jack Wasserman and broadcast journalist Jack Webster. He also photographed visiting celebrities and dignitaries, from jazz musicians to British royalty. Although Schiffer worked from his famed Seymour Street studio, he shot many of his most memorable and revealing portraits outside of it – in the homes, gardens and work environments of his subjects.

Schiffer’s story is both harrowing and inspiring. Born in Vienna, he trained there as a lawyer, but was forced to flee his home country to seek refuge in England from Nazism. After the war, he and his wife and children emigrated to Argentina, then, in 1958, moved to Vancouver, seeking a more stable political climate. Throughout this time, Schiffer supported himself with the art he had learned in order to pay his way through law school – photography.

Robin Laurence


 Tue, Apr 7, 2015