Robert Koch, San Francisco, and Timothy Baum, New York, 1997
There are endless variations of the photogram process, and Moholy continually experimented with ways to expand its capabilities. In the present image, the three-dimensional shape of the pinwheel creates a modulation of tonality where light has crept under its lifted edges. The basket-like wire shape is rendered here in intense gray tones, indicating that it was suspended over the paper, and not resting directly upon it. The doubled impression of the paperclip suggests that Moholy moved it during the exposure.
This pinwheel photogram was one of a number of superb Moholy photograms offered in these rooms in 1988 and 1989. The cover image for the Sotheby’s April 1989 catalogue, it set a record at that time for a Moholy photographic work at auction, far in excess of what any Moholy photogram or photograph had sold for in earlier years.
For Moholy-Nagy, the photogram was the essence of photographic image-making. He wrote: ‘The photogram, or cameraless record of forms produced by light, which embodies the unique nature of the process, is the real key to photography’ (A New Instrument of Vision, 1933).
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