Front / Recto

  • Title The Critical Moment from the series . . . It Opened After All! ( . . . und er entfaltet sich doch!) (Der kritische Moment)
  • Negative Date c. 1930
  • Print Date c. 1930
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 6 3/16 × 8 15/16" (15.7 × 22.7 cm)
    Sheet 7 1/16 × 9 9/16" (18 × 24.3 cm)
  • Place Taken Berlin
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
  • MoMA Accession Number 1849.2001.7

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type No mount
  • Marks and Inscriptions

    Stamped in black ink on sheet verso, right: phot. Fotoaktuell–Ruge/Einsender:/Presseverlag/Fotoaktuell G.m.b.H./Berlin W 10, v.d. Heydstraße 13[7 or 9]/Belege und Abrechnung/obige Adresse. [oriented upside down with respect to image]. Stamped in green ink on sheet verso, center: "FREUDENBERG"/Bilderdienst/zürich/Lunastr. 6 Postfach Neumünster [with rectangular outline]. Stamped in green ink on sheet verso, center: ORIGINALBILD/bitte zurück [oriented upside down with respect to image]. Label affixed to sheet verso, center, with text printed in black ink: (2837) . . . und er entfaltet sich doch!/Der kritische Moment. Etwa 20 m vom fliegenden/Flugzeug entfernt beginnt der Fallschirm sich zu/entfalten [1]./copyright by Fotoaktuell GmbH [oriented upside down with respect to image]. Inscribed in blue ink on sheet verso, bottom right: 115 [oriented upside down with respect to image].

    [1] ". . . it opened after all! The critical moment. At about 20 meters from the flying plane the parachute begins to open."

  • 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. The print 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 print was purchased from Christie's by the gallery on behalf of Thomas Walther, together with the thirteen prints from the series I Photograph Myself during a Parachute Jump (Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm).
    [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 48%
    Hardwood bleached sulfite 1%
    Rag 48%
    Bast 3%
  • 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, Ca, 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

Historical Publications

  • "La emoción del lanzamiento al espacio en paracaídas," Caras y caretas, no. 1,697 (April 11, 1931) (as He aquí un momento crítico. El paracaidista, a unos treinta metros de distancia del aeroplano, espera la apertura de la enorme sombrilla).

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