Volkmar Kurt Wentzel (b. Dresden, 1915-2006) arrived in Washington, DC, in the early 1930s. When the Great Depression led to prohibitive housing costs in DC, he moved to Aurora, West Virginia, to join a community with Robert Gates and several other artists who had become close friends. In 1937, back in Washington, architect Erik Menke introduced Volkmar to a book titled Paris De Nuit (1933)by Brassaï, a French photographer. Volkmar was enchanted. He purchased a new camera and began photographing the series “Washington by Night.” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, out for a stroll one evening, encountered Volkmar and purchased several of his Washington pictures. Volkmar completed his Washington photographs and brought them to National Geographic. He was hired immediately. The event led to his 48-year photographic career as a National Geographic photographer.
An e-book catalog is available, featuring an essay by curator Leah Bendavid-Val.