Imprints of Their Being: The Photographs of Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of Art History


This dissertation introduces the profound yet understudied contributions of German-born photographers Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel. As immigrants, socially conscious artists, and photojournalists, this wife/husband pair covered subjects ranging from migrant labor camps and strikes to Japanese Americans interned during World War II; they also contributed images to Life magazine. This dissertation is the first to combine image-based and contextual analyses to critically situate both Mieth’s and Hagel’s photographs within their contexts. By engaging three themes—their status as outsiders/insiders, their collaborative practice, and their experience of American and European modernism—this study argues that Mieth and Hagel represent a new model for understanding American documentary photography.