Untitled, by Renger-Patzsch

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German-born Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966) is one of the most important promoters of modern photography; his famous book Die Welt ist schön is considered a bible of the German modernist movements called Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) and Neue Sehen (New Vision). In Die Welt ist schön, he collected 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.

With this publication, Renger-Patzsch became famous over-night, seemingly almost against his will. He defined an era of modern art, but had little interest in media and questions of art history and paid no attention to the later styles of photography. His archives were destroyed during the Second World War.

His early images also explored the aesthetic potential of close-ups and enlarging details. He combined the art of documenting with aesthetic appeal. The above photo, which was “Untitled,” is an image of the artist taking the picture using the reflection of a car mirror. Almost a trite photo now, it was a very innovative idea for the 1920s.

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