Front / Recto

  • Title Meanwhile, on the Ground . . . from the series I Photograph Myself during a Parachute Jump (Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm) (Unterdessen auf der Erde . . .)
  • Negative Date 1931
  • Print Date 1931
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 5 9/16 × 8 1/16" (14.2 × 20.4 cm)
    Sheet 7 × 9 9/16" (17.8 × 24.3 cm)
  • Place Taken Berlin
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
  • MoMA Accession Number 1849.2001.3

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type No mount
  • Marks and Inscriptions

    Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, top left: 115. Label affixed to sheet verso, center, with text printed in black ink: Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm./Der Fotograf springt mit dem Fallschirm ab./Unterdessen auf der Erde meine Frau in dem Augenblick, in dem/ich aus dem Flugzeug springe. Mein kleiner Sohn hat scheinbar/für diese Luftsprünge seines Vaters noch wenig Interesse [1]./Copyright by Fotoaktuell GmbH./Berlin SW. 68, Markgrafenstr. 87.

    [1] "I photograph myself during a parachute jump. The photographer jumps with a parachute. Meanwhile on the ground my wife at the moment when I jumped from the plane. My young son seemingly has little interest in his father’s skydives."

  • Provenance The artist, Berlin; to Vertrieb für Pressephotos (Christoph Netzle), Zurich, probably 1931 [1]; to Freudenberg GmbH (Hans Guggenbühl and Guido A. Pozzi), after 1930 and possibly in summer 1945 [2]; to Internationale Bilderagentur (Dr. Heinz Müller), Oberengstringen, Switzerland, 1945–47 [3]; to Dr. Roland Müller, Brugg, Switzerland, possibly February 1971 [4]; sold through Christie's New York (sale 8982, lot 272) to Michael Shapiro Gallery, San Francisco, October 6, 1998 [5]; purchased by Thomas Walther, 1998 [6]; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
    [1] Roland Müller, e-mail to Simon Bieling, April 16, 2005.
    [2] Ibid. This series was acquired in a lot comprising one to two hundred thousand photographs.
    [3] Ibid.
    [4] Ibid.
    [5] MacGill/Walther 2001(4), p. 12; and Shapiro Gallery invoice no. 98-158, October 9, 1998. The series was purchased from Christie's by the gallery on behalf of Thomas Walther.
    [6] Shapiro invoice.


  • Surface Sheen Glossy
  • Techniques Ferrotyping
    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) 0.18
  • UV Fluorescence Recto negative
    Verso negative
  • Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 18%
    Rag 77%
    Bast 5%
  • 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, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba
    • Verso: Al, Si, S, K, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, 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, Si, P, S, K, Ca, Ag, Ba
    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Zn, Sr, Ag

In Context

Related Images

Willi Ruge. “Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm” (I photograph myself during a parachute jump). Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, no. 21 (May 24, 1931). Ullstein Bild. © 2014 Axel Springer SE

Historical Publications

  • Ruge, Willi. “Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm.” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung 40, no. 21 (May 24, 1931): 843 (as Meine Frau unten auf dem Flugfeld in dem Augenblick, in dem ich aus dem Flugzeug springe).

    “Falling Parachutists Photographed by Themselves: Mid-Air Snapshots.” Illustrated London News 178, no. 4,810 (June 27, 1931): 1,096 (as Frau Ruge (right) and Frau Boettcher (left) watching Herr Willi Ruge leap from an aeroplane, and Our wives on earth at the moment of my jump: my little son does not seem much interested in his father’s feat.).

    “Por primera vez en el mundo, un fotógrafo se lanza con su cámara en paracaídas,” Caras y caretas, no. 1,721 (September 26, 1931) (as Un instante de angustia terrible. En el campo de avación la esposa del fotógrafo espera ansiosa el momento en que el paracaídas se abra).

    “Parachute Jumper Photographs Himself While Falling.” Popular Science, October 1931, p. 45 (as His Worried Wife Looked On).

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