History of Photography

History of Photography

A World History of Photography

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991

Photographers' Dictionary



Chapter 9












The New Vision:

Straight Photography in Europe

The new vision invigorated straight photography by presenting the known world in uncharacteristic ways. Even though polemical messages may have been more difficult to convey than in montage, photographers found that they could express social and psychological attitudes and explore aesthetic ideas through a variety of visual initiatives. These included making use of actual reflections, unusual angles, and close-ups. Inspiration for many of these experiments in seeing can be traced to the avant-garde cinema, which, in the opinion of at least one photographer of the time, saved still photography from itself Reflections, which in former times had aided photographers in composing interior scenes and landscapes, now offered them a means to explore the expressive possibilities of industrially produced refractive surfaces such as plate glass and polished metals. The overlay of natural forms and geometric patterns reflected in the shop windows of Atget's images (pi. no. 319) frequently evokes a dreamlike aura; in the hands of modernist photographers this stratagem served to con-found one's sense of space or to introduce seemingly un-related visual references. To select but a single example, in Frau G. Resting, 1930, (pi. no. 496) German photographer Edmund Resting structured an image resonant with restlessness and ambiguity from the reflections in the auto-mobile windshield, the tense expression on his wife's face, and the tectonic elements of car and building.

Distorted reflections, effected by using special mirrors and lenses or by capturing objects refracted in spherical forms, provided a device that might serve to mimic the formal experiments of Cubist painters as well as to express disturbing personal or social realities. First seen in 1888, when Ducos du Hauron produced a series of experimental portraits (pi. no. 497), the distorted image was reintroduccd in the late 1920s by Hungarian photographer Andre Kertesz (pi. no. 498), whose interest had been aroused initially as he photographed the bodies of swimmers refracted in a pool. In 1933, using a special mirror, he produced a series of nudes similar in treatment to the deformations of the human body that engrossed Picasso at the time. The potential of this technique in social or personal comment was explored by Polish photographers Marian and Witold Dederko (pi. no. 499) whose work in the modernist vein is combined with old-fashioned gum printing techniques, while the distorted scene refracted in the polished headlamp of a car in The Fierce-Eyed Building (pi. no. tool, by American neo-Romantic Clarence John Laughlin, seems to signify the photographer's view of modern urban life as inhumane. Photographers especially influenced by Surrealism sought to express intuitive perceptions through found symbols as well as accidental reflections. In Optk Parable (pi no. 501), by Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, reflections in a shop window combine with the repetitive forms of a naively painted eye-glass sign, seen in reverse as if to intimate an all-seeing but perverse presence. Bravo's style, formed during the 1930s cultural renaissance in his native land, suggests a complex amalgam of sophisticated theories of the unconscious, elements of indigenous folk culture, and commitment to the humanist ideals of the Mexican revolution.

The influence of the "isms" of art culture—Cubism, Constructivism, Surrealism, Precisionism—are visible in the work of virtually all photographers of the new vision, but while most regarded these concepts as allowing them the freedom to fragment and restructure reality, some individuals actually included in their photographs the typical geometric furnishings of Constructivist and Cubist paintings. Cones, spheres, and overlapping transparent planes found their way into the work of European photographers Herbert Bayer and Walter Pererhans, both of the Bauhaus, as well as that of Funke, Florence Henri, and the American Paul Outerbridge. Henri's studies at the Bauhaus and with painter Fernand Leger may account for her preference for the mirrors and spheres that appear again and again in her abstract compositions (pi. no. 502) and portraits; other Cubist photographers allowed themselves greater latitude the artifacts they assembled for Cubist-likc still lifes.

496. EDMUND RESTING. Frau G. Resting, 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Francisco Museum of Modern Art; purchase, Mrs. Ferdinand C. Smith Fund.

497. LOUIS DUCOS DU HAURON. Self-Portrait, c. 1888.
Gelatin silver print. Societe Franchise de Photographie, Paris.

498. ANDRE KERTESZ. Distortion No. 4, 1933.
Gelatin silver print. Susan Harder Gallery, New York.

ANDRE KERTESZ  (see collection)

(b Budapest, 2 July 1894; d New York, 27 Sept 1985).

American photographer of Hungarian birth. As a young man he used to wander around Budapest and visit the Ethnographic Museum. At this time Bila Bartуk and Zуltan Kodely were rediscovering Hungarian folk music, and Hungarian poets and painters were looking at their ancient vernacular traditions for inspiration. Kertйsz, who started taking photographs at the age of 12, also tried to reflect these interests, both in his choice of countryside subjects and in the simplicity of his style. Self-taught, he often took his camera with him when he went to visit relatives in the small peasant towns of the Hungarian heartland, the puszta. He tried to go beyond mere recording of holiday memories, or of the idyllic relationship of the country people to nature; he rather sought out timeless and essential qualities in the ordinary day-to-day events that he saw around him.

see also collection:
 Kertesz Andre

see also:
Andre Kertesz. Meudon, 1928

Distortion, 1930


Gum bichromate print. National Museum, Wroclaw, Poland.
International Center of Photography, New York.

500. CLARENCE JOHN LAUGHLIN. The Fierce-Eyed Building, 1938.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York.


(b Lake Charles, LA, 14 Aug 1905; d New Orleans, LA, 2 Jan 1985).

American photographer. He spent his early childhood on a plantation in Louisiana before moving to New Orleans in 1910. A self-taught photographer, he began photographing in 1935, influenced by Baudelaire and French Symbolist poets. Initially imitating the objective photography of contemporaries Paul Strand and Edward Weston, he came to believe in the pursuit of his own visions and by 1939 considered his life’s work begun. Laughlin photographed what he came to describe as ‘the third world of photography’, concentrating on the remnants of the ‘Old South’; he produced images of crumbling plantations, graveyards and shadowy figures, visual parallels to novels by such writers as William Faulkner and Carson McCullers. He posed veiled women to represent spirits bearing the weight of history and often used double exposure and contrasts of light and shadow to invest inanimate objects with fearful possibilities, or to increase illusionistic possibilities—as in In the Cage (1940), an image of a child behind a louvre-door, the shadows cast on him like bars of a cage. A work such as Moss Monster (1946) demonstrates his ability to turn natural phenomena into a Surrealist image.

see also: Laughlin Clarence



501. MANUEL ALVAREZ BRAVO. Optic Parable, 1931.
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of N. Carol Lipis.

MANUEL ALVAREZ BRAVO  (see collection)

(b Mexico City, 4 Feb 1902).

Mexican photographer. He studied painting and music at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City in 1918. In 1922, after training as an office worker, he began to take an interest in photography, and in 1923 he met Hugo Brehme shortly before buying his first camera. In 1929, through his friendship with Tina Modotti, he got to know Diego Rivera. In 1930, when Modotti left Mexico, he provided illustrations for Francis Toor’s book Mexican Folkways. From 1930 to 1931 he was cameraman for Eisenstein’s film Viva Mexico. Subsequently he met Paul Strand and Cartier-Bresson and became friendly with Mexico’s leading painters and writers. In 1938 he met Andrй Breton, who was visiting Mexico and who was deeply impressed by the mysterious and suggestive nature of his photographs. Breton was keen to enlist him for the Surrealist cause and published some of his photographs in Minotaure.

MANUEL ALVAREZ BRAVO. Good Reputation, 1938


502. FLORENCE HENRI. Abstract Composition, 1929.
Gelatin silver print.

FLORENCE HENRI (see collection)

(American, 1893-1982)

Born in New York City in 1893, Henri first studied music, then painting under Fernand Léger in Paris and photography at the Bauhaus under Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers during 1927 and 1928. After her studies, she moved to Paris where she set up a studio for portrait, fashion and advertising photography. Her work was included in many seminal exhibitions and publications of the late 1920s and early 1930s, contributing to the international language of photographic experimentation and abstraction referred to as the New Vision in Europe. Henri's photography demonstrates a mastery of portraiture and still-life, incorporating close-ups, reflections and montage in her repertory of techniques. Like other 'new photographers' of the time, she also made use of unusual viewpoints and her photographs reflect the influence of cubism, often using mirrors to produce pictures that are fragmented and spatially ambiguous.

Portrait composition, 1930


In the same fashion, the emblems of Surrealism—endless vistas, melting clocks, and checkerboard patterns—appeared in photographs by Man Ray, the British theatrical portraitist Angus McBean, and the American theatrical and fashion photographer George Platt Lynes (see Chapter 10). Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the straight photography of this time is the predominance of unconventional vantage points. This development was forecast in the work done in the second decade of this century bv American photographers Stieglitz, Coburn, Steichen, and Strand following their exposure to modern European an exhibited at 291, The Armory Show, and the Modern Gallery. Indeed, the downward view and the rigorous organization of all the tectonic elements in Stieglitz's 1907 image The Steerage (pi no. 402) resulted in a complex formal structure that is said to have impelled Picasso later to remark that the two artists were working in the same avantgarde spirit. Fresh points of view, unhackneyed themes, geometry, and sharp definition were heralded by Coburn, who observed that photographers "need throw off the shackles of conventional expression." His image The Octopus (pi. no. 398) of 1913 is a flattened arrangement of planes and arcs achieved by photographing downward from a position high over Madison Square Park in New York City. Three years later, Coburn's involvement in Vorticism, the English variant of Cubism, led him to photograph through a kaleidoscope-like device consisting of three mirrors; these completely abstract formations were dubbed Vortographs (pi. no. 503) by Wyndham Lewis, the British leader of the movement. Around 1916, Strand created a series of near-abstractions using ordinary household objects. Exemplified by Orange and Bowls (pi. no. 504), these images concentrated on form, movement, and tonality rather than on naturalistic depiction or atmospheric lighting. Although abstraction as such did not interest him for long, Strand's utilization of unconventional angles and his high regard for pictorial structure also can be seen in the downward views of New York streets and the close-ups of anonymous street people and of machine and organic forms with which he was preoccupied until the end of the 1920s. No Americans besides Coburn and Strand went quite so far in experimenting with abstraction before the twenties, but some, including Stieglitz, Charles Sheeler, Morton L. Schamberg, Steichen, Karl Struss, and Paul Lewis Anderson showed themselves exceptionally sensitive to geometric elements as they appeared in reality and to formal structure in their images.

The fact that mundane scenes and ordinary objects could be revealed in a fresh light made the unconventional vantage point a favorite of those associated with Construc¬tivism and the Bauhaus precisely because these groups were dedicated to viewing everyday society in new ways. Pont Transbordeur (pi. no. 505), a view by Bayer from a bridge looking down on the streets of Marseilles, typifies the many images of the time in which the visual field is transformed into a relatively flat pattern—one that retains just enough suggestion of depth and texture to be ambiguous. Besides unusual camera angle, the abstract orchestration of tonality, seen in Castle Staircase (pi. no. so6) by Czech photographer Jan Lauschmann, can produce a work that is spatially baffling but visually authoritative. Lauschmann, a photochemist by profession, was one of the first in his country to conclude that photography should be an independent branch of art, and that straight printing was more relevant to modern concerns than the hand-manipulated gum printing techniques that lingered in Eastern Europe until the 1930s.

In another example of the downward view that is arresting from several positions-—Carrefour, Blois (pi. no. 508) by Kertesz—the puzzling configuration of lines and shapes of architectural elements seen from above serve as a foil for the animate forms, resulting in a refreshing vision of a scene that had been more commonly photographed from street level. Neither a Pictorialist nor yet an entirely objective photographer, Kertesz supported himself as a free-lance journalist soon after moving to Paris from his native Hungary in 1925; using the newly invented Leica camera (see A Short Technical History, Part III) he embraced the new vision as a means to extract lyrical moments from the ordinariness of daily existence. While he utilized virtually the entire vocabulary of modernism—reflections, close-ups, and unusual vantage points—his images seem to project wit (pi. no. 507), human compassion, and poetry rather than a concern with formal problems or didactic ideas.

The view from above made possible the ambiguous reading of shadow and substance visible in a work of 1929 entitled Little Men, Long Shadows (pi. no. 509) by Vilho Setala, a skillful Finnish professional photographer whose visual interplay of figures and shadows suggests a typically urban experience of anonymity and mechanized existence. At times the relationship between shadow and substance in photographs taken from this viewpoint is so tenuous that the images can be viewed from any angle with equal comprehension. As a result of increased attention to camera angle, a portrait of Clemens Roseler (pi. no. 510) by T. Lux Feininger, who was involved with the theater and dance program at the Bauhaus, is imbued with tension and fresh interest through the extreme foreshortening.

503. ALVIN LANGDON COBURN. Vortograph No. 1,1917.
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of Alvin Langdon Coburn.

ALVIN LANGDON COBURN  (see collection)

504. PAUL STRAND. Orange and Bowls, Twin Lakes, Conn., 1916.
Platinum print.

PAUL STRAND (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Paul Strand (October 16, 1890 – March 31, 1976) was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Born in New York City to Bohemian parents, in his late teens Strand was a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. It was while on a fieldtrip in this class that Strand first visited the 291 art gallery – operated by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen – where exhibitions of work by forward-thinking modernist photographers and painters would move Strand to take his photographic hobby more seriously. Stieglitz would later promote Strand's work in the 291 gallery itself, in his photography publication Camera Work, and in his artwork in the Hieninglatzing studio. Some of this early work, like the well-known "Wall Street," experimented with formal abstractions (influencing, among others, Edward Hopper and his idiosyncratic urban vision). Other of Strand's works reflect his interest in using the camera as a tool for social reform.
Over the next few decades, Strand worked in motion pictures as well as still photography. His first film was Manhatta (1921), also known as New York the Magnificent, a silent film showing the day-to-day life of New York City made with painter/photographer Charles Sheeler. Manhatta includes a shot similar to Strand's famous Wall Street (1915) photograph. Other films he was involved with included Redes (1936) (released in the US as The Wave), a film commissioned by the Mexican government, the documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) and the pro-union, anti-fascist Native Land (1942).
In June 1949, Strand left the United States to present Native Land at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia. It was a departure that marked the beginning of Strand’s long exile from the prevailing climate of McCarthyism in the United States. The remaining 27 years of his life were spent in Orgeval, France where, despite never learning the language, he maintained an impressive creative life, assisted by his third wife, fellow photographer Hazel Kingsbury Strand.
Although Strand is best known for his early abstractions, his return to still photography in this later period produced some of his most significant work in the form of six book ‘portraits’ of place: Time in New England (1950), La France de Profil (1952), Un Paese (featuring photographs of Luzzara and the Po River Valley in Italy, 1955), Tir a'Mhurain / Outer Hebrides (1962), Living Egypt (1969) and Ghana: an African portrait (1976).
Strand married the painter Rebecca Salsbury in 1921. He photographed Rebecca Salsbury Strand frequently, sometimes with uncommonly close compositions. Strand married Hazel Kingsbury in 1951.
The timing of Strand’s departure to France is coincident with the first libel trial of his friend Alger Hiss, with whom he maintained a correspondence until his death. Although he was never officially a member of the Communist Party, many of Strand’s collaborators were either Party members (James Aldridge; Cesare Zavattini) or were prominent socialist writers and activists (Basil Davidson). Many of his friends were also Communists or were suspected of being so (MP DN Pritt; film director Joseph Losey; Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid; actor Alex McCrindle). Strand was also closely involved with Frontier Films, one of more than twenty organizations that were branded as ‘subversive’ and ‘un-American’ by the US Attorney General.
Strand also insisted that his books should be printed in Leipzig, East Germany, even if this meant that they were initially prohibited from the American market on account of their Communist provenance. De-classified intelligence files, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and now lodged at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, reveal that Strand’s movements around Europe were closely monitored by the security services.

see also:
Paul Strand. Blind Woman, 1916

Blind Woman, 1916


505. HERBERT BAYER. Pont Transbordeur, over Marseilles, 1928.
Gelatin silver print.

HERBERT BAYER. Profil en Face, 1929

HERBERT BAYER. Lenely Metropolitan, 1932


506. JAN LAUSCHMANN. Castle Staircase, 1927.
Gelatin silver print.

5O7. ANDRE KERTESZ. Satiric Dancer, Paris, 1926.
Gelatin silver print. Susan Harder Gallery, New York.

508. ANDRE KERTESZ. Carrefour Blois, 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Susan Harder Gallery, New York.

509. VILHO SETALA. Little Men, Long Shadows, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Photographic Museum of Finland, Helsinki.

510. T. LUX  FEININGER. Clemens Roseler, c. 1920s.
Gelatin silver print. Prakapas Gallery, Bronxville, N.Y.

Another hallmark of the new vision is the closeup, a view in which the lens acts like an enlarging device to call attention to patterns, textures, and structures that might ordinarily pass unnoticed. Reflecting in part the advances in scientific photography during the 20th century, the close-up was regarded as one means for "the objective presentation of fact," which frees the viewer from the confusion of individual representation. This concentration on discrete objects also signified that to some photographers the camera seemed to be more suitable for revealing specific appearances than for depicting complex psychological or social relationships. The close-up recommended itself strongly to German partisans of the New Objectivity, among them professor of art Karl Blossfeldt who sought through his images of plant forms to establish a link between form in a natural world "governed by some fixed and eternal force" and in art (pi. no. 511).

The New Objectivity's most renowned advocate, Albert Rcnger-Patzsch, a professional photographer in Germany. also sought to make his lens reveal analogies between natural formations and factory-produced objects, in order to suggest the formal structures that are basic to plants, bridges, factories and their products. Focusing his large-format camera on intrinsic design elements and searching out repetitive pattern, he eliminated atmosphere, chance-illuminations, and all personal subjective reactions to achieve a transcendental level of pure decoration in images such as Sempervivum Percarneum, 1922, (pi. no. 512). At times his work seemed to approach abstraction despite his expressed "aloofness to art for art's sake." A similar attentive-ness to the clarity of line and form characterizes Werner Mantz's views of German modern architecture of the 1920s and '30s, while Hans Finsler, Swiss-born but influential as a teacher and professional in Germany, used the camera to make vivid the precise geometries of mass-produced machined objects (pi. no. 513).

The camera close-up, especially as it served the ideals of the New Objectivity, garnered international adherents owing to the acclaim outside Germany for Blossfeldt's Unformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature), published in 1928, and Renger-Patzsch's Die Welt Ist Schon (The World Is Beautiful)—the latter considered by the photographer "a model book of objects and things." The style and its typical themes informed the work of many other Europeans, including French photographer Emmanuel Sougez and Dutch photographer Piet Zwart (pi. no. 515), whose robust image of a cabbage can be compared with a similar image by Czech photographer Ladislav Berka (pi. no. 514).While the close-up opened a fresh way of viewing that most commonplace of subjects—the human face and form—it did not prevent the photographer from introducing personal feelings. Indeed, Rodchenko's Portrait of My Mother (pi. no. 516), reveals the shape, texture, and forms of aging, and also expresses a tender though unsentimental compassion. Tonal contrast, outsize scale, and asymmetrical placement in Lucia Moholy's Portrait of Florence Henri (pi. no. 518) strikingly exemplify die formalistic concerns of the photographer yet suggest the essence of the sitter's personality. Eye of Lotte (pi. no. 517), by the influential German teacher Max Burchartz, a work that undoubtedly was considered the "leitmotif for the modern photography movement," because it so fully embraces the stylistic devices of the era—the close-up, unusual framing, emphatic geometrical design—at the same time projecting the innocence and freshness of youth. As seen in Child's Hands (pi. no. 519) by German photographer Aenne Biermann and the image of work-hardened hands (pi. no. 520) by Italian photographer Tina Modotti, the close-up view obviously can be imbued with either personal or social comment.

511. KARL BLOSSFELDT. Impatiens Glandulifera, Balsamine, Springkraut, 1927.
Gelatin silver print. Galerie Wilde, Cologne.

KARL BLOSSFELDT (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932) was a German photographer, sculptor, teacher, and artist who worked in Berlin, Germany, at the turn of the century. He worked with a camera he designed himself. That camera allowed him to greatly magnify the objects he was capturing, to up to 30 times their actual size. He spent much of his time devoted to the study of nature. In his career of more than 30 years, he photographed nothing but plants, or rather, sections of plants. In many of his photographs, he would zoom in so close to a plant that the plant no longer looked like a plant. The images he created looked more like lovely, abstract forms. His photos revealed the amazing detail found in nature.
When Karl Blossfeldt began his career, photography was still quite new. Many people saw it as a scientific tool. They looked at it as an infallible means of capturing the world. Many people did not look at photography as an art form yet. Blossfeldt's work can be seen as a transition between looking at photography as just science and looking at photography as art.
Blossfeldt was born in Schielo, the Unterharz region of Germany. He attended high school in the nearby village of Harzgerode and graduated with a secondary school certificate. He started as a sculpture and modelling apprentice at the iron foundry in Mägdesprung by the Harz mountains. Between 1884 and 1890, he took music and drawing classes at the Lehranstalt des Königlich Preussischen Kunstgewerbemuseums (The Royal Institute of Arts and Crafts), in Berlin thanks to a fellowship granted by the Prussian government.
Over the next decade, Blossfeldt traveled around Italy, Greece, and North Africa, where he started collecting plant material for drawing classes and systematically documented single plant samples with photographs under the tutelage of Moritz Meurer, who published some of the young photographer’s work. In 1898, Blossfeldt joined the Kunstgewerbliche Lehranstalt, teaching modelling based on plant samples and his own photographs as class material. He held this position for 31 years.
His works focused on the beauty of nature. He chose to use the organic forms of the earth to contrast against stark backgrounds so that the shapes he created focused on the small detail of nature, making it the main focus of the image and to show these natural compositions on scales as small as ornamental ironwork and as large as the shapes of entire buildings.
In 1912, he married Helene Wegener, an opera singer. She was his second wife. Together they traveled around southern Europe and northern Africa. In 1921, he was appointed Hochschule für bildende Künste professor at the Institute in Berlin.
Blossfeldt's botanical photographs, which Meurer had used as teaching material in his drawing manual, were first exhibited at Berlin's Gallery Nierendorf in 1926 and were published in several illustrated magazines and books on architecture and design theory. The 1928 publication of Urformen der Kunst (Archetypes of Art), a stunning collection of extreme closeup photos of plants, earned Blossfeldt a place as a pioneer in the New Objectivity art movement. The book received enthusiastic responses from both literary circles and the general public.
His success was followed by another exhibition at the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1929, and a series of botanical photographs were published in Documents to illustrate Georges Bataille's article "The Language of Flowers" (1929, issue 3). Blossfeldt retired from teaching to emeritus status at the college in 1930.
His Second Series of Art Forms in Nature were published in Wundergarten der Natur (Magical Garden of Nature), which was published in the year he died, 1932. Blossfeldt's lifespan mirrors almost exactly that of the objective photographer Wilson Bentley (1865–1931), from the U.S. state of Vermont, whose work focused on photographically recording snowflakes and ice crystals.




512. ALBERT RENGER-PATZSCH. Semperrivum Percarneum, c. 1922.
Gelatin silver print. Folkwang Museum. Essen. Germany.

ALBERT RENGER-PATZSCH (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Albert Renger-Patzsch (June 22, 1897 – September 27, 1966) was a German photographer associated with the New Objectivity.
Renger-Patzsch was born in Würzburg and began making photographs by age twelve. After military service in the First World War he studied chemistry at Dresden Technical College. In the early 1920s he worked as a press photographer for the Chicago Tribune before becoming a freelancer and, in 1925, publishing a book, The choir stalls of Cappenberg. He had his first museum exhibition in 1927.
A second book followed in 1928, Die Welt ist schön (The World is Beautiful). This, his best-known book, is a collection of one hundred of his photographs in which natural forms, industrial subjects and mass-produced objects are presented with the clarity of scientific illustrations. In its sharply focused and matter-of-fact style his work exemplifies the esthetic of The New Objectivity that flourished in the arts in Germany during the Weimar Republic.
During the 1930s Renger-Patzsch made photographs for industry and advertising. His archives were destroyed during the Second World War. In 1944 he moved to Wamel Dorf, where he lived the rest of his life.



513. HANS FINSLER. Ceramic Tubing, c. 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Sander Gallery, New York.

514. LADISLAV BERKA. Leaves, 1929. Gelatin silver print.

515. PIET ZWART. Cabbage, 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands.

516. ALEXANDER RODCHENKO. Portrait of My Mother, 1924.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Alexander Lavrientiev, Moscow

ALEXANDER RODCHENKO  (see collection)

517. MAX BURCHARTZ. Eye of Lotte, c. 1928.
Gelatin silver print. Folkwang Museum. Essen, Germany.

518. LUCIA MOHOLY. Portrait of Florence Henri, 1926-27.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Julien Levy Collection.

LUCIA MOHOLY (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Lucia Moholy, born Lucia Schulz, (18 January 1894, Prague, Austria-Hungary — 17 May 1989, Zurich, Switzerland) was a photographer and wife of artist and fellow photographer László Moholy-Nagy.
After studying philosophy, philology, and art history, she worked as an editor and lecturer in Prague. She met and married László Moholy-Nagy in 1920 in Berlin. She studied photography in Weimar and Leipzig from 1923 to 1924 and, when her husband secured a position at the Bauhaus, lived in Dessau and produced many of the iconic images and portraits associated with that school. In 1928, she and her husband moved to Berlin where she worked at the Ittenschule as a stage photographer and lecturer.
The couple separated in 1932 and emigrated, separately, to London when the National Socialist German Workers Party rose to power in 1933. There, she continued to photograph and teach, publishing a book, A Hundred Years of Photography, 1839-1939 (Harmondsworth, 1939) and directing a microfilm/reprography service based at the Science Museum Library, London, for the Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureaux (Aslib) (see Moholy, L. (1946), "The ASLIB microfilm service: the story of its wartime activities", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 2 No.3, pp.147-73). Immediately after the war she travelled to the Near and Middle East for projects for UNESCO. She retired in 1959 to Zollikon, Switzerland.

Julia Feininger, 1926


519. AENNE BIERMANN. Child's Hands, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulrurbesitz, Berlin.

520. TINA MODOTTI. Number 21 (Hands Retting an a Tool).
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

TINA MODOTTI (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Tina Modotti (August 16 (or 17) 1896 – January 5, 1942) was an Italian photographer, model, actress, and revolutionary political activist.

She was born Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini in Udine, Friuli. In 1913, at the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States to join her father in San Francisco.
Attracted to the performing arts supported by the Italian emigre community in the Bay Area, Modotti experimented with acting. She appeared in several plays, operas and silent movies in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and also worked as an artist's model.
In 1918, she married Roubaix "Robo" de l'Abrie Richey and moved with him to Los Angeles in order to pursue a career in the motion picture industry. There she met the photographer Edward Weston and his assistant Margrethe Mather. By 1921, Modotti was Weston's favorite model and, by October of that year, his lover. Modotti's husband Robo seems to have responded to this by moving to Mexico in 1921. Following him to Mexico City, Modotti arrived two days after his death from smallpox on February 9, 1922. In 1923, Modotti returned to Mexico City with Weston and his son Chandler, leaving behind Weston's wife and remaining three children.
Edward Weston's 1923 portrait of Tina ModottiModotti and Weston quickly gravitated toward the capital's bohemian scene, and used their connections to create an expanding portrait business. It was also during this time that Modotti met several political radicals and Communists, including three Mexican Communist Party leaders who would all eventually become romantically linked with Modotti: Xavier Guerrero, Julio Antonio Mella, and Vittorio Vidali.
By 1927, a much more politically active Modotti (she joined the Mexican Communist Party that year) found her focus shifting and more of her work becoming politically motivated. Around that period, her photographs began appearing in publications such as Mexican Folkways, Forma, and the more radically motivated El Machete, Arbiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ), and New Masses.
Some have suggested that Modotti was introduced to photography as a young girl in Italy, where her uncle, Pietro Modotti, maintained a photography studio. Later in the U.S., her father briefly ran a similar studio in San Francisco. However, it was through her relationship with Edward Weston that Modotti rapidly developed as an important fine art photographer and documentarian. Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo divided Modotti’s career as a photographer into two distinct categories: "Romantic" and "Revolutionary." The former period includes her time spent as Weston’s darkroom assistant, office manager and, finally, creative partner. Together they opened a portrait studio in Mexico City and were commissioned to travel around Mexico taking photographs for Anita Brenner’s book, "Idols Behind Altars."

Anonimo-Tina Modotti, 1918;  Edward Weston's portraits of Tina Modotti

In Mexico, Modotti found a community of cultural and political avant guardists. She became the photographer of choice for the blossoming Mexican mural movement, documenting the works of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Her visual vocabulary matured during this period, such as her formal experiments with architectural interiors, flowers and urban landscapes, and especially in her many lyrical images of peasants and workers. Indeed, her one-woman retrospective exhibition at the National Library in December 1929 was advertised as "The First Revolutionary Photographic Exhibition In Mexico." She had reached a high point in her career as a photographer, but within the next year she was forced to set her camera aside in favor of more pressing concerns.
During this same period, economic and political contradictions within Mexico and indeed much of Central and South America were intensifying and this included increased repression of political dissidents. On January 10, 1929, Modotti's comrade and companion Julio Antonio Mella was assassinated, ostensibly by agents of the Cuban government. Shortly thereafter an attempt was made on the Mexican President Pascual Ortiz Rubio. Modotti — who was a target of both the Mexican and Italian political police — was questioned about both crimes amidst a concerted anti-communist, anti-immigrant press campaign, which depicted "the fierce and bloody Tina Modotti" as the perpetrator. (A Catholic zealot, Daniel Luis Flores, was later charged with shooting Rubio. José Magrińat was arrested for Mella's murder.)
As a result of the anti-communist campaign by the Mexican government, Modotti was expelled from Mexico in February, 1930, and placed under guard on a ship bound for Rotterdam. The Italian government made concerted efforts to extradite her as a subversive national, but with the assistance of International Red Aid activists, she evaded detention by the fascist police. Traveling on a restricted visa that mandated her final destination as Italy, Modotti initially stopped in Berlin and from there visited Switzerland. She apparently intended to make her way into Italy and to join the anti-fascist resistance there. However, in response to the deteriorating political situation in Germany and her own exhausted resources, she followed the advice of Vittorio Vidali and moved to Moscow in 1931.
During the next few years she engaged in various missions on behalf of the International Workers' Relief organizations and the Comintern in Europe. When the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, Vidali (then known as "Comandante Carlos") and Modotti (using the pseudonym "Maria") left Moscow for Spain, where they stayed and worked until 1939. She worked with the famed Canadian Dr. Norman Bethune (who would later invent the mobile blood unit) during the disastrous retreat from Málaga in 1937. In April 1939, following the collapse of the Republican movement in Spain, Modotti left Spain with Vidali and returned to Mexico under a pseudonym.
Modotti died from heart failure in Mexico City in 1942 under what is viewed by some as suspicious circumstances. After hearing about her death, Diego Rivera suggested that Vidali had orchestrated it. Modotti may have 'known too much' about Vidali's activities in Spain, which included a rumoured 400 executions. Her grave is located within the vast Panteón de Dolores in Mexico City.


Edward Weston's portraits of Tina Modotti

Poet Pablo Neruda composed Tina Modotti's epitaph, part of which can also be found on her tombstone, which also includes a relief portrait of Modotti by engraver Leopoldo Mendez:

Pure your gentle name, pure your fragile life,
bees, shadows, fire, snow, silence and foam,
combined with steel and wire and
pollen to make up your firm
and delicate being.

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