- Herbert Bayer
- UNMÖGLICH (SELF PORTRAIT)
- Gelatin silver print
- 15 5/8 x 11 7/8 inches
Van Deren Coke, Avant-Garde Photography in Germany 1919-1939 (Munich, 1982), pl. 99
Annette and Rudolf Kicken, Simone Förster, Points of View: Masterpieces of Photography and Their Stories (Göttingen, 2007), p. 140
By the time the young Austrian-born Bayer attended the Bauhaus in Weimar, he had already worked as a professional commercial artist and graphic designer. At the Bauhaus, he studied under Wassily Kandinsky and later became an instructor there in typography and advertising design. In the late 1920s and 1930s, Bayer worked in Berlin, and it is during this period that he created the series of works that he referred to as his fotoplastiken (literally 'photo sculptures'), including Unmöglich.
Bayer brought all of his talent as a photographer and graphic artist to bear on the fotoplastiken. A meticulous craftsman, he combined a number of photographic elements and expertly assembled them into a homogenous and credible composition. This print of Unmöglich was made directly from Bayer’s original 1932 fotoplastik, and offers a window into the artist's working methods. The edges of the image show Bayer's use of pins to hold the original photomontage in place in order to photograph it. Penciled crop lines at the very edge of the original are rendered here photographically, and this print allows us to see the full dimensions of the original photomontage.
The present photograph is a rare example from the first generation of prints Bayer made of his photomontages in the 1930s.