About this artwork
After studying at the Bauhaus, Otto Umbehr, who was known professionally as Umbo, worked in film production, in an arts and crafts workshop, and even as a clown. In 1928 he joined Dephot, a German photojournalism agency, and continued working as a freelance photographer for the majority of his career. Umbo’s works were known for their dark humor, seen here as a mannequin’s molded legs and feathery slippers are transformed from elements of consumer display into symbols of erotic dismemberment. Through such images Umbo’s work was linked to the avant-garde interest in animated puppets or automatons as surrogates for human desire, an interest cultivated by German writers and artists in the 1910s and 1920s and embraced by the nascent Surrealist movement in the mid-1920s. In 1932, New York art dealer Julien Levy featured Umbo’s work in one of the first Surrealist exhibitions in the United States.
Currently Off View
- Umbo (Otto Umbehr)
- Made 1928–1929
- Gelatin silver print
- Inscribed recto, lower right, in black ink: "Umbo"; inscribed verso, upper right, in graphite: "W/2"; verso, lower center, in graphite: "© [?]"
- 29.6 × 20.9 cm (image/paper)
- Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean and Julien Levy
- © 2018 Phyllis Umbehr/Galerie Kicken Berlin/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York