Maria Austria was born as Marie Karoline Oestreicher in Karlsbad (present-day Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republik). Her mother was Clara, born Kisch (1871-1945), her father, Dr. Karl Oestreicher (1864-1915), was a district physician. He died shortly before she was born. She grew up in a liberal Jewish intellectual milieu. Her brother Felix, her senior by 20 years, studied medicine, her sister Lisbeth was 13 years older and attended secondary school.
she started studying at the Bauhaus in Dessau with a diploma in the weaving class 1930.
After graduating from grammar school in Karlsbad Maria Austria went to Vienna – with a Rolleiflex- and a Leica-camera –, where she attended a three-year vocational course in photography at the ”Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt”. She completes the training with a diploma "very good".
During the education she did her intership at the well-known Studio Willinger.
Fleeing to Amsterdam in response to the rise of the Nazi party, she moved in with her sister Lisbeth, who worked since 1930 in the Netherlands as a textile designer. Together they founded the studio ”Model and Foto Austria” Marie changed her name to Maria Austria.
The two sisters lived in the new district in the south of the city known as Rivierenbuurt, where they met many Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria. Austria produced portraits on commission and published in a number of Dutch weeklies, including Libelle and Wij.
In 1938 her mother and her brother Felix, together with Felix’s wife and children, fled from Karlsbad to Amsterdam.
During the Second World War, after the occupying forces banned Jewish people from practicing as photographers, Austria got a job working for the Jewish Council.
Maria Austria married the German Jewish sales representative Hans Bial. Hans Bial and her sister Lisbeth obeyed the summons that the occupying forces sent to Jews, ordering them to go to Westerbork.
After the final raid in Amsterdam on 29 September 1943 Maria Austria went into hiding. At the beginning of November 1943 her mother and her brother, together with his family, were sent to Westerbork.
Maria Austria became active in the resistance. She fell in love with the fellow resistance worker Henk Jonker and taught him photography.
After the country’s liberation on 5 May she set up the photography agency Particam (later Particam Pictures) together with Henk Jonker, Aart Klein, and Wim Zilver Rupe. Particam occupied premises in a large building at Willemsparkweg 120.
She made photo reportages of the devastating consequences of the war in Amsterdam and elsewhere in the country. Her husband, sister, and three nieces survived the war, but her mother, brother and sister-in-law perished. Maria and Hans Bial were divorced.
Together with photographers including Cas Oorthuys, Carel Blazer, Paul Huf, Sem Presser, Emmy Andriesse, and Eva Besnyö, she founded the Photography Section within the society of applied arts GKf and joined the Association of Photojournalists. She would dedicate herself to promoting the interests of photographers until her death.
In this period she made countless social documentary reportages for Particam on the country’s reconstruction, for publication in newspapers and magazines. At the same time she was active in theatre photography, with regular clients including the Holland Festival, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Netherlands Opera Foundation. Until the beginning of 1963 she worked closely with Henk Jonker.
Particam had a weekly feature in the daily newspaper Algemeen Handelsblad, covering a wide range of topics.
Mariage to Henk Jonker
In this year she took photographs of the Achterhuis where Anne Frank and her family had lived in hiding.
Divorce from Henk Jonker, after which Maria Austria continued Particam Pictures on her own; Aart Klein and Wim Zilver Rupe had already left the agency at an earlier stage.
She focused increasingly on theatre photography, working for a limited number of regular clients. in the late 1960s she started photographing experimental theatre. In this period she took on a number of trainee assistants, including Vincent Mentzel, Jaap Pieper, and Bob van Dantzig.
Death of Maria Austria on the 10th of January.
Family and friends set up the foundation Maria Austria-Particam Photo Archives, the aim being to safeguard the continued accessibility of her archives. It was from this foundation that the Maria Austria Instituut (MAI) was formed in 1992.
Exhibition in the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam and publication ”Maria Austria – Holland zonder Haast” by Maria Austria Instituut
First exhibition in Germany in Das Verborgene Museum, Berlin: Maria Austria - Photographien der 1950er- und 1960er-Jahre
Exhibition in the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam and publication: Maria Austria, Fotografe by Martien Frijns. Exhibition acquisition Das Verborgene Museum, Berlin
Wednesday, 17. Okober 2018 | 19 h
DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM
Mirya Geradu, Kulturreferentin
Botschaft des Königreichs der Niederlande
Martien Frijns, Verleger und Autor der Publikation
“Maria Austria – Fotografe“
18. Oktober 2018 - 03. März 2019
The Museum is only open during the exhibition period !!
Thursday, Friday 15 - 19 h
Saturday, Sunday 12 - 16 h
DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM
S5, 7, 75, 9 Savignyplatz
Bus M49, X34, 101
+49 (0) 30 313 36 56
Picture Quotes | Exhibition Maria Austria
Flyer to the Exhibition