The long life and work of the extraordinary documentary photographer, cameraman, and humanist, Wolf Suschitzky (born 1912, Vienna) who has died at the age of 104 on 7 October, touches upon key historic moments and major photographic and cinematographic developments across the 20th
century. Wolf’s distinguished career began in the 1930s when he came to Britain after escaping Nazi persecution. His sister, Edith Tudor-Hart, also a distinguised photographer and big influence on Wolf, had already emigrated here. Major recent retrospectives of Wolf's work include the solo exhibition An exile's eye: The photography of Wolfgang Suschitzky
at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 2002 and Wolf Suschitzky: Seven Decades of Photography
at the Austrian Cultural Forum, London, 2014. His work has also been included in prestigious group exhibitions at Tate Britain: How we are: Photographing Britain
in 2007, and Another London: International Photographers capture city life 1930-1980
in 2012. The same year, he was honoured for his contributions to working in film with a BAFTA lifetime achievement award. In July 2014, at the age of nearly 102, Wolf received his first honorary doctorate of arts, from the University of Brighton, and attended with his partner Heather Anthony, his daughter Julia and son Misha. The award gave him great pleasure.
This year, two great London shows paid tribute to his early London photographs; they were exhibited first at the Photographer’s Gallery; and most recently at the Ben Uri Gallery’s Unseen London, Paris, New York, alongside evocative photographs by Dorothy Bohm and Neil Libbert. Children are the future, a documentary I made with Wolf and Tony Wallis in 2015, is currently on view at the co-curated exhibition From Streets to Playgrounds, City of Toronto Archives gallery.
As a photographer and cameraman, Wolf created a legacy of photography and film work known for its integrity, compassion, and exceptional dedication to craftsmanship and professionalism. This creative legacy now extends to his sons Peter Suschitzky, also a renowned cameraman, and Misha Donat, composer. Wolf’s own status as émigré observer within Britain sharpened his vision and gave him an ability to look with patience and attentiveness at each new situation, whilst retaining curiosity and a deep interest in everyday life. Like Wolf himself, his artistic output is engaged and has much integrity, constituting a meaningful and substantial visual archive of 20th century cultural, social and lived experience.
Julia Winckler, 10 October, 2016.