Eva Marianne Besnyö was born on 29 April in Budapest,the second in a family of three girls, daughters of the lawyer Bela Blumengrund (later Besnyö, 1877–1944) and llona Kelemen (1883–1981).

c. 1925
Eva is given a Kodak Brownie, a box camera using 5 x 9-cm negatives.

Beginning 1 September, Eva receives lessons from Jószef Pécsi (1889–1956), a well-known photographer in Budapest who also teaches photography. Her father gives her a Rolleiflex camera with 6 x 6-cm negatives. She will continue to work with this type of camera until 1969. She participates in the Book and Advertising exhibition in the Museum for Arts and Crafts from 12 April to 27 within the group apprentices of Pecsi. ln 1930,she passes her examination to become a “journeyman”. After the examination (11 September) she leaves for Berlin. Here, she once again meets the artist György Kepes, who works in the studio of László Moholy-Nagy.

From 1 November to 14 January, Eva works as a volunteer with the Berlin advertising photographer René Ahrlé, in his studio in Nurnbergerstrase 7.

From 1 February to 1 July, Eva works with the press photographer Dr. Peter Weller, again as a volunteer.  His studio was located at Nollendorfplatz 7. After the summer, she rents a studio with a darkroom in Nachodstrasse 25 and begins business on her own as a photographer, in cooperation with the Neofot agency.

Early in the year, she begins a relationship with John Fernhout, who is three years younger and who has been studying in Berlin at the Agfa School. From 20–29 June, they go on holiday to the Baltic Sea. In October, after a vacation in Hungary, she movesto the Netherlands. She is accepted in the circle around Charley Toorop, a painter and the mother of her friend John Fernhout. Eva and John set up house at Keizersgracht 498 in Amsterdam. 

Charley Toorop paints De Maaltijd der Vrienden (Dinner among friends); portraits of Eva Besnyö and John Fernhout appear in the lower right of the painting. Eva plays the main role in a short film by Hans Sluizer, Puberteit (Puberty). John Fernhout is the cameraman. 

From 11–30 March, Eva is given her first solo exhibition at Kunstzaal Van Lier in Amsterdam. Eva marries John Fernhout on 25 July. She moves to Herengracht 427.From 25 November to 17 December, Eva has an exhibition in the building of the Utrecht association “Voor de Kunst”. The exhibition is opened by Gerrit Rietveld. 

Eva Besnyö becomes a member of the Vereniging van Arbeidersfotografen (Union of labour photographers).

Eva has solo exhibitions at Studio ’32 in Rotterdam and at Sierkunst in Amersfoort. Eva moves to the Kerkstraat, John leaves for Easter lsland, to film there with Henri Storck for more than a year.

From November she rents together with the photographer Carel Blazer and the architect Alexander Bodon a house, Keizersgracht 522 in Amsterdam. This house becomes a meeting place for photographers and artists.
Eva lives here until 1939.

She receives commissions from architects – chiefly members of the “de 8 group” – to photograph their buildings. Her photographs are published in the periodical de 8 en Opbouw, among other places.

At the Third Amsterdam Christmas Salon for photographic Art, she receives 8th prize, consisting of a certificate and a bronze AAFV plaque.

Eva becomes a member of the Bond van Kunstenaars ter Verdediging van de Kulturele Rechten (BKVK, Artists’ Association to Defend Cultural Rights). She participates in the D.O.O.D. (De Olympiade uur, The Olympics under dictatorship) exhibition, organised by the BKVK. Eva takes a leading role in making the arrangements for the international exhibition Foto ’37 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, organised by the BKVK. On 10 April she is elected to the board of the BKVK. Late in 1937, she ends the relationship with John Fernhout. They will not be officially divorced, however, until 1945. 

She produces photo walls for the AVRO radio studios in Hilversum and for the passenger liners Nieuw Amsterdam and Pendrecht.

Eva begins a relationship with the designer Wim Brusse (1910–1978). 

She becomes a member of the Vereniging voor Ambachts- en Nijverheids Kunst (VANK, Association for Crafts and Applied Art). Eva moves to Leidschekade 59, where she lives together with Wim Brusse. 

After the Journalism Decree of May 1941, Eva can no longer publish under her own name because of her Jewish background. Her photographs appear in periodicals under the name of Wim Brusse. She earns her livelihood primarily by doing portrait photographs. She also takes on a number of pupils. ln 1942, Eva acquires a false identity card via Willem Sandberg. She then begins to work for the illegal group PersoonsBewijzenCentrale (PBC, Identification Centre). ln late 1942, she goes underground, alternating between Rotterdam and Broek in Waterland. ln 1944, she is Aryanised. 

On 20 May, Berthus, the son of Eva Besnyö and Wim Brusse, is born. On 20 August, after a complicated procedure, she is officially divorced from John Fernhout, who had been living in the United States sinceShe marries Wim Brusse. Eva is involved in the founding of the photography section of the Gebonden Kunstenaars federatie (GKf, Society of Practitioners of the Applied Arts). 

Two of Eva’s photographs are used for the Children’s Benefit Stamp for 1947; the type design is by Wim Brusse. She is commissioned by the Emma Children’s Hospital to photograph the working conditions in their outdated building. The hospital intends to use these photographs to raise funds for renovations. 

Iara, the daughter of Eva Besnyö and Wim Brusse, is born on 1 September.

Based on 15 photographs by Eva, Paul Bromberg writes Alarm, een verhaal voor de jeugd.

On commissions from the Nederlandse Verbruikscooperatie, Eva produces photographs for calendars,brochures and annual reports.

Eva and Wim Brusse move with their family to Vondelstraat 92, in Amsterdam.Together with Emmy Andriesse, Carel Blazer and Cas Oorthuys, Eva takes part in the Photographie exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum. Eva receives a Certificate of Appreciation at the Weltausstellung der Photographie in the Kunsthaus in Lucerne.

She participates in an exhibition on post-war European photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

ln 1955, Eva takes part in the exhibition The Family of Man in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A year later, under the title Wij Mensen, the exhibition is hung in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Eva receives a gold medal at the 1a Mostra Internazionale Biennale di Fotografia in Venice.

She is appointed to a committee at the Stedelijk Museum to advise on the purchase of photographs for the collection.

She produces various photo essays on visitors to museums, among them the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum. 

The marriage of Wim Brusse and Eva Besnyö ends in divorce.

Eva is commissioned by the organisers of the event Musement to do a slide presentation on the Kroller-Muller Museum. She buys a 35 mm Leica SLR to carry out the commission.

She becomes active in the feminist group Dolle Mina and becomes the photographer for Dolle Mina actions.

The National Advisory Committee on the Applied Arts, comprised of Will Bertheux, Benno Premsela, Bertie Stips and Eva Besnyö, draws up a list of twelve artists whose portraits will be taken by Eva. 

The directors of the Amsterdam Art Fund Foundation award Eva Besnyö and Onno Meeter a “free creative commission” to take photographs on the theme of “women in contemporary society”. Eva photographs women in traditionally male professions, such as a barge captain and a tram conductor. 

The Amsterdam Art Fund Foundation awards Eva a photo commission to document aspects of the Amsterdam urban scene. She chooses the houseboats as her theme. 

1976 After the death of the woman photographer Maria Austria, the Maria-Austria-Particam Photo Archive Foundation in Amsterdam (today: Maria Austria Instituut/ MAI) is established. Eva becomes a member of the board.

Death of her son Berthus Brusse.

On 22 June, Eva joins in a panel discussion at Museum Fodor in Amsterdam on ‘the aesthetic and instrumental use of photography’. Others on the panel are Martin Schouten (chairman), Flip Bool, Maurice Boyer, Willem Diepraam, Paul Huf and Max Koot.

The retrospective exhibition Eva Besnyö, ’n halve eeuw werk opens on 25 March in the Amsterdam Historical Museum. Simultaneously, Uitgeverij Sara publishes a book under the same title, with text by Carrie de Swaan. ln October and November, the exhibition moves on to the Municipal Museum in Arnhem. On 1 April, the VARA’s feminist programme ‘Kijk Haar’ broadcasts a televised portrait entitled Eva Besnyö, ’n halve eeuw werk, edited and directed by Carry van Lakerveld and Hedda van Gennep.
On 6 May, Eva participates in the discussion and event ‘The place of the artist’ in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. The panel members are Jan Rogier (chairman), Louis Ferron, Ruud Engelander, Ger Lataster, Rense Royaards, Peter Schat, Frans Weisz and Eva Besnyö. The Netherlands Photo Archive Foundation is established on 7 May; Eva becomes a member of the board of this foundation.

She receives the Annie Romein Prize from the feminist magazine Opzij for ‘her extraordinary contribution to the historiography of the second feministwave ... which could not be replaced by any number of words’.

On 25 February, the NOS broadcasts the television programme Markant. Portret van de 75-jarige fotoqrafe Eva Besnyö. From 2 October to 9 November, the Mücsarnok in Budapest shows the exhibition Eva Besnyö, ’n halve eeuw werk, under the title Eva Besnyö Fotokiállítása. Twenty of her photographs are displayed in the exhibition Wechsel-Wirkungen. Ungarische Avantgarde in der Weimarer Republik in Kassel and Bochum. 

A cahier entitled Eva Besnyö, Györqy Kepes. Mit anderen Augen. Berlin 1928–1930 appears with an introduction by Diethart Kerbs.

As part of the second Zeeland Cultural Month there are exhibitions at five locations on Walcheren under the title Eva Besnyö. Zeeland toen, accompanied by a booklet of the same title with an introduction by Jacqueline Louwerse. 

The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam mounts the exhibition Eva Besnyö. Onbekende foto’s (Unknown photographs). Later in the year the exhibition travels to the museum De Beyerd, in Breda.
In Berlin the exhibition Eva Besnyö – Photographien 1930–1989 takes place in DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM. lt is accompanied by a catalogue entitled Eva Besnyö. Budapest. Berlin. Amsterdam. Photographien 1930–1989.

At the opening of the exhibition Eva Besnyö. Vintage Prints in the Amsterdam Historical Museum on 15  November, Eva receives an honorary life membership in the GKf. The book Een beeld van Eva Besnyö, with an introduction by Willem Diepraam, appears together with the exhibition. 

Museum Kranenburgh mounts the exhibition De Maaltijd der Vrienden. Kunstenaars in Bergen 1930–1935, including photographs by Eva. The show is accompanied by a catalogue with an article on Eva Besnyö by Tineke de Ruiter. Eva receives the Piet Zwart Prize, instituted by the beroepsvereniging Nederlandse Ontwerpers (bNO, Professional Association of Dutch Designers). On the occasion of this award, Eva Besnyö prepares an exhibition comprising her selection from the photography collection of the Stedelijk Museum. Eva Besnyö takes part in the exhibition Fotografieren hiess teilnehmen. Fotografinnen der Weimarer Republik at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Fundacio ‘La Caixa’, Barcelona, The Jewish Museum, New York City, Fotomuseum Winterthur. She receives the Oeuvre Prize from the Visual Arts Fund, Design and Architecture Foundation in Rotterdam.

A retrospective of Eva Besnyö’s work is presentedat the Rotterdam Kunsthal in connection with the Oeuvre Prize.

The exhibition Eva Besnyö-Foto’s, Jose Ijlstra-Foto’s takes place at the Galerie Duo Duo in Rotterdam. lt is accompanied by the book Eva Besnyö. Kinderen 1930–1987, with an introduction by Eddie Marsman. Eva has an exhibition at the Fészek Artists’ Association in Budapest. She takes part in the exhibition Photographers – Made in Hungary at the Hungarian Museum of Photography in Kesckemét, Hungary. 

An exhibition, Eva Besnyö, uma retrospectiva, is presented at the Centro Portugues de Fotografia, accompanied by a catalogue. Eva Besnyö, written by Willem Diepraam, one of the series of ‘Monographs on Dutch Photographers’ by the Prince Bernhard Fund, appears. ln Berlin on 31 October, Eva receives the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize, established by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie in 1971, for humanistic photojournalism; a selection of her photographs are presented at the Märkisches Museum in Berlin. 

From 16 October to 16 January 2000, Eva takes part in the exhibition Entre-Deux, Een confrontatie tussen hedendaagse en historische vrouwelijke fotografie in Belgie en Nederland at the Museum for Photography in Antwerp. From 4 December to 16 January 2000, in connection with the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents a retrospective exhibition of her work from its own collection.

ln the spring, Eva Besnyö breaks her hip. After a period in hospital, she convalesces for several months at a nursing home in Noordwijk (near Zandvoort). 

The exhibition Besnyö in Bergen runs from 19 October to 2 January at the Museum Kranenburgh in Bergen, comprising eighty photographs that the museum was given by two former members of its board. A book with an introduction by Tineke de Ruiter appears under the same title. 

On 1 August, Eva Besnyö moves to the Rosa Spier Huis in Laren (near Hilversum). 

ln May, her archive of negatives is transferred from the Vondelstraat to the Maria Austria lnstitute in Amsterdam. A documentary by Leo Erken, Eva Besnyö – de Keurcollectie, about the process of making selections from the archive and its ultimate transfer, is shown for the first time in December. 

From 17 January to 2 March 2003, FOAM in Amsterdam presents the exhibition Eva Besnyö – de Keurcollectie. After 16 March, the exhibition is hung in the Rosa Spier Huis in Laren. One of Eva’s photographs is used on a series of postage stamps commemorating the Great Flood of 1953. On 2 March, Eva Besnyö receives the Silver Medal from the City of Amsterdam. During the opening of the Emmy Andriesse exhibition at the Fotomuseum Den Haag in November, Eva Besnyö receives the first Emmy Andriesse Prize.

On 12 December, after a brief illness, Eva Besnyö dies in Laren at the age of 93. She is buried on 17 December 17 at Zorgvlied Cemetery.


presented in Berlin the retrospective exhibition “Eva Besnyö – Photographer” in the in Berlinische Galerie – Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur from 28 October 2011 to 27 February 2012 and afterwards this exhibition “Eva Besnyö – L’image sensible” was shown in Paris in the Museum JEU DE PAUME from 22 May to 23 September 2012



Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst
Fotografie und Architektur


27. Oktober 2011 | 19 h


Dr. Thomas Köhler
Direktor der Berlinischen Galerie

André Schmitz
Staatssekretär - Senatskanzlei Kulturelle Angelegenheiten, Berlin

Dr. Bart Hofstede
Botschafter für Presse und Kultur
Botschaft des Königsreichs der Niederlande, Berlin

Iara Brusse
Tochter der Fotografin Eva Besnyö, Amsterdam

Elisabeth Moortgat
Co-Kuratorin, Das Verborgene Museum


Zwei Lieder von Berthold Brecht
und Hanns Eisler
Berthold Kogut, Gesang (Bariton)
Constanze Lösch, Klavier


28. Oktober 2011 - 27. Februar 2012


Alte Jakobstr. 124-128 | 10969 Berlin


28.01.2012 | 18:00 - 01:00 h
As Part of
Guided by the Exhibition

to the Exhibition

Eva Besnyö 
Budapet . Berlin . Amsterdam
Edited by Marion Beckers, Elisabeth Moortgat
Hirmer Verlag, München, 2011
248 Seiten, ca. 240 SchwarzWeiß-Abbildungen
29,00 € at the Museumskasse



2. Station


21. Mai 2012


22. Mai - 23. September 2012


1. Place de la Concorde | F - 75008 Paris

Eva Besnyö
Film for the Exhibition
in the JEU DE PAUME, Paris
Exhibition Tour, Interviews




Schlüterstrasse 70
10625 Berlin-Charlottenburg


S5, 7, 75, 9  Savignyplatz
U2 Ernst-Reuter-Platz,
Bus M49, X34, 101 Schlüterstrasse


pleas refer Contact


+49 (0) 30 313 36 56



Eva Besnyö 
Budapest . Berlin . Amsterdam
Photographs 1930 - 1089
Texte und Redaktion
Marion Beckers, Elisabeth Moortgat
Movimento Druck, Dezember 1991