Front / Recto

  • Title The Aerial Photographer (Der Luftfotograf)
  • Negative Date 1929–30
  • Print Date 1929–32
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 9 3/16 x 6 3/4" (23.4 x 17.1 cm)
  • Place Taken Berlin
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
  • MoMA Accession Number 1850.2001

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type No mount
  • Marks and Inscriptions

    Stamped in black ink on sheet verso, top center: CARAS Y CARETAS/ARCHIVO [with circular outline]. Stamped in black ink on sheet verso, top right: COL. FOTOGRAFICA/7 ABR 1932 [with square outline]. Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, top center: AVIACION [underlined]. Inscribed in blue pencil on sheet verso, right: 2640. Label affixed to sheet verso, bottom center, with text printed in black ink: Der Luftfotograf./(Siehe beilieg. Artikel v. Willi Ruge)[1]/2. Künstlerische Fotostudie: der Luftfotograf./Copyright by/Fotoaktuell G.m.b.H./Berlin SW. 68,/Markgrafenstr. 87.

    [1] "See the attached article by Willi Ruge."

  • Provenance The artist; to Caras y Caretas Archivo, Buenos Aires [1]; to a flea market or art-book dealer, Paris [2]; to Galerie Alain Paviot, Paris, c. 1995 [3]; to Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne, 1995–96 [4]; purchased by Thomas Walther, June 1997 [5]; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
    [1] Inscription on print verso.
    [2] Alain Paviot, telephone conversation with Simon Bieling, April 1, 2005; and Paviot, e-mail to Bieling, October 26, 2005.
    [3] MacGill/Walther 2001(4), p. 12.
    [4] Ibid.; and Paviot, conversation with Maria Morris Hambourg, Paris, September 2013.
    [5] Galerie Rudolf Kicken invoice no. 97/1065, June 25, 1997, inventory no. P8712042.


  • Surface Sheen Glossy
  • Techniques Ferrotyping
    Retouching in negative
    Copy print
  • 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 Single weight
  • Thickness (mm) 0.19
  • UV Fluorescence Recto negative
    Verso negative
  • Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 67%
    Hardwood bleached sulfite 11%
    Rag 11%
    Bast 4%
    Softwood bleached kraft/soda 2%
    Hardwood bleached kraft/soda 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: Al, P, S, Cl, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba, Pb
    • Verso: Al, Si, S, K, Ca, Fe, Zn, Sr, Ba, 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).

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

In Context

Historical Publications

  • “Fliegende Wetterfrösche.” Hackebeil's Illustrierte 6, no. 3 (January 16, 1930): 21 (as Der Höhenmeteorologe bei der Arbeit).

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