Michael Schmidt. Untitled, from the series Ceasefire (Waffenruhe). 1985-87

Michael Schmidt Untitled, from the series Ceasefire (Waffenruhe) 1985-87

  • Not on view

It is only a dirty plate-glass window, but it is a barrier all the same. The nondescript scene beyond is out of focus because the photographer, instead, has focused, literally, on the window and its ugly mark, perhaps the remains of a poster that has been ripped from the glass.

Schmidt was born in Berlin five months after the German surrender ended World War II in Europe. In 1961, when he was sixteen, the city was decisively split into East and West by the feuding victors of the war, and so it remained until 1989. Although he had lived for a time in East Berlin, Schmidt came of age in the West, where he photographed the city's neighborhoods in a sober style ultimately derived from the American documentary tradition.

This picture belongs to a series of the mid-1980s in which Schmidt abandoned the reserve of his earlier style and radically narrowed the scope of his views so as to deepen their symbolic and emotional force. The Berlin Wall appears in some of the pictures; its presence is felt in all of them. When the Wall came down a few years later, Germans on both sides discovered that the rift Schmidt had evoked still divided them.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 315.
Gelatin silver print
35 1/8 × 27 3/8" (89.3 × 69.6 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder
Object number
© 2021 Estate of Michael Schmidtv

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].