Front / Recto

  • Title Untitled
  • Negative Date February 1931
  • Print Date 1931–33
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 5 3/8 × 4 7/16" (13.7 × 11.3 cm)
  • Place Taken Berlin
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
  • MoMA Accession Number 1687.2001
  • Copyright © 2015 Raoul Hausmann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
  • Description

    As a key member of the Berlin-based Dadaists, between 1918 and 1922 Raoul Hausmann exhibited assemblage sculptures, collages, and photomontages made with magazines and newspaper clippings. Being a Dadaist, he dissociated himself from photography— considered a positivist medium—in a 1921 unpublished manifesto titled “Wir sind nicht die Photographen” (We are not the photographers), but by the late twenties he had taken up photography in earnest, making straightforward images of landscapes and plants before turning to more experimental works on light and optics.

    Hausmann made this untitled image in February 1931, during his intensive years of experimental photography and prior to his departure from Berlin in 1933. The model is his second wife, Hedwig Mankiewitz-Hausmann, who is pictured in other of his photographs from early that year. This print is among Hausmann’s more modest small formats from the early 1930s. He enlarged the image onto double weight paper with a semireflective surface and later trimmed the print; Hausmann printed on a range of paper types but favored German Agfa-Brovira papers. On the verso, the presence of adhesive residues along the top and a faint dark spot at the top center, possibly due to adhesive residue, indicates that this print was previously attached to a support, perhaps as part of a Photomontage or other presentation.

    Hausmann took at least two other images of this model and mirror, most likely at the same time. He used one[1] in an untitled photomontage exhibited in Fotomontage, a show organized by his friend César Domela-Nieuwenhuis and mounted in April–May 1931 at the Staatliche Kunstbibliothek in Berlin. Hausmann published this image in the Cologne-based review A bis Z, in May 1931. In 1946 he included another version in two other photomontages: L’Acteur (now in the collection of Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) and an untitled work in which he kept only a part of the enlarged eye.[2] In all the images, the reflection in the shaving mirror magnifies the organ of vision, the eye, in line with many avant-garde photographic works of that period. The round mirror becomes a metaphor for the camera’s mechanical lens, which enables the operator to see the world literally larger than life. In another untitled work (MoMA 1689.2001), Hausmann used a lens instead of a mirror to achieve a similar magnification.

    —Quentin Bajac, Hanako Murata

    [1]  This photograph has been widely reproduced: see Michel Giroud, Raoul Hausmann ‘Je ne suis pas un photographe’ (Paris: Éditions du Chȇne, 1975), p. 79; Andreas Haus, Raoul Hausmann Kamerafotografien 1927–1957 (Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 1979), fig. 7; and Hildegrund Amanshauser and Monika Faber, eds., Gegen den kalten blick der welt, Raoul Hausmann—Fotografien 1927–1933 (Vienna: Osterreichisches Fotoarchiv, 1986), p. 113.

    [2]  See Giroud, Raoul Hausmann, p. 115.

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type No mount
  • Marks and Inscriptions Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, bottom right: TW 900604.
  • Provenance The artist, Berlin; given to the artist’s first wife, Elfriede Hausmann-Schaeffer, Berlin, 1933 [1]; to the artist’s daughter, Vera Hausmann, Berlin [2]; to Cornelia Frenkel, Freiburg, Germany [3]; purchased by Thomas Walther, June 1990 [4]; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
    [1] MacGill/Walther 2001(4), p. 5. The artist went into exile in Ibiza in 1933.
    [2] Ibid.
    [3] Ibid.
    [4] Ibid.


  • Surface Sheen Semireflective
  • Techniques Enlargement
  • PTM
    View of the recto of the artwork made using reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) software, which exaggerates subtle surface details and renders the features of the artwork plainly visible. Department of Conservation, MoMA
  • Micro-raking
    Raking-light close-up image, as shot. Area of detail is 6.7 x 6.7 mm. Department of Conservation, MoMA
    Raking-light close-up image, processed. Processing included removal of color, equalization of the histogram, and sharpening, all designed to enhance visual comparison. Department of Conservation, MoMA

Paper Material

  • Format Metric
  • Weight Double weight
  • Thickness (mm) 0.29
  • UV Fluorescence Recto negative
    Verso negative
  • Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 96%
    Hardwood bleached sulfite 4%
  • Material Techniques Developing-out paper
  • XRF

    This work was determined to be a gelatin silver print via X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry.

    The following elements have been positively identified in the work, through XRF readings taken from its recto and verso (or from the mount, where the verso was not accessible):

    • Recto: P, S, Cl, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba
    • Verso: Al, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ba

    The graphs below show XRF spectra for three areas on the print: two of the recto—from areas of maximum and minimum image density (Dmax and Dmin)—and one of the verso or mount. The background spectrum represents the contribution of the XRF instrument itself. The first graph shows elements identified through the presence of their characteristic peaks in the lower energy range (0 to 8 keV). The second graph shows elements identified through the presence of their characteristic peaks in the higher energy range (8 to 40 keV).

    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Al, P, S, Cl, Ca, Ag, Ba
    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Sr, Ag

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