Front / Recto
- Title Under Water (Unter Wasser)
- Negative Date 1928–29
- Print Date 1929
- Medium Nine gelatin silver prints, paper, and pencil
- Dimensions Image 4 13/16 × 1 1/2" (12.3 × 3.8 cm)Mount 8 1/16 × 5 15/16" (20.4 × 15.1 cm)
- Place Taken Munich
- Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
- MoMA Accession Number 1838.2001
- Copyright © Estate Franz Roh, Munich
The most striking features of this work are the nine “negative prints,” identified as such by the artist in 1929. Roh made the images by exposing a 35mm filmstrip directly onto another 35mm film negative and then contact printing the resulting interpositive onto photographic paper. He then hand trimmed his selections to roughly fit inside graphite columns he had inscribed on the support, and, working from the top down, he attached the trimmed prints. After the second image in each column was pasted in place, he trimmed away the overlap with the preceding image. The ninth image, at bottom right, appears to have been pasted in either after the other eight were fully in place or before the left column was completed. Roh retouched small areas of certain images with an aqueous medium to hide the white edges of the cut paper.
Of particular interest are the explicit instructions on the Mount, written in German. On the recto, the notes read, “left and right cut away as little / as possible,” “*Don’t reproduce this picture” (for the bottom right image), and “Etch/engrave in the Original- / size”. On the verso they read, “Each of the two vertical bands by itself! double the size of each! very strong, strong contrast!”, with arrows and diagrams in graphite. The presence and location of the inscriptions (plus the fact that the images were printed on glossy paper, which maximizes detail) imply that this work was made for publication, not for exhibition. It is an exact match, reproduced to scale, with an image published in Foto-Auge: 76 Fotos der Zeit (Photo-eye: 76 photos of the time), a book, edited by Roh and Jan Tschichold, published to coincide with the exhibition Film und Foto, mounted in Stuttgart in 1929. Some of the artist’s inscriptions were not followed: the columns were not doubled in size, and the ninth image was included.
Back / Verso
- Mount Type Mount (original)
- Marks and Inscriptions Signed in pencil on mount recto, bottom left: F. Roh: Unter Wasser [with square outline]. Inscribed in pencil on mount recto, bottom left: links und rechts so wenig/wie möglich [wie möglich underlined] wegschneiden. Inscribed in pencil on mount recto, bottom right: *Dieses Bild nicht drauf [*points to bottom photograph in right column]/in der Original-/größe ätzen. Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, center: Jeden der 2 Längstreifen für sich!/doppelt so groß jeden/nehmen!/ganz stark, ganz kontrastreich!. Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, bottom right: TW 871104.
The artist, Munich; probably by inheritance to the artist's estate (Juliane Roh, 1909–1987), Munich, 1965 ; to Galleria del Levante (Emilio Bertonati, 1934–1981), Milan/Munich ; to Sander Gallery (Gerd Sander), New York ; purchased by Thomas Walther, November 1987 ; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
 All the other prints by Roh that passed through Galleria del Levante came from the artist's estate.
 Priska Pasquer, telephone conversation with Simon Bieling, May 5, 2005.
 MacGill/Walther 2000, p. 32; and Sander Gallery invoice no. 1187.7.GS, November 22, 1987.
 Thomas Walther archival no. TW 871104 on mount verso; and Sander invoice, annotated with Walther archival no. TW 871104.
- Format Unknown
- UV Fluorescence Recto negative Verso no data
- Fiber Analysis No fiber data available
- Material Techniques Developing-out paper
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: S, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba, Au, Pb
- Mount: Al, Si, S, Ca, Fe, Cu, Zn, Sr, Pb
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).
Roh, Franz, and Jan Tschichold. Foto-Auge: 76 Fotos der Zeit, pls. 64 and 65 (as Unter Wasser [Leika-Negativstreifen]—Sous l’eau [Bande de negative <leika>]—Under Water [Leika Band, Negative]). Stuttgart: Akademischer Verlag Dr. Fritz Wedekind & Co., 1929.
- Publications Foto-Auge, 1929