Front / Recto
- Title This Moment Was Decisive . . . from the series I Photograph Myself during a Parachute Jump (Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm) (Dieser Augenblick war entscheidend . . .)
- Negative Date 1931
- Print Date 1931
- Medium Gelatin silver print
- Dimensions Image 5 3/8 × 7 15/16" (13.7 × 20.1 cm)Sheet 7 × 9 1/2" (17.8 × 24.1 cm)
- Place Taken Berlin
- Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
- MoMA Accession Number 1849.2001.10
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./Der Fallschirm hat sich geöffnet. Dieser Augenblick war ent-/scheidend: Der Fallschirm hatte sich nach der vorgeschriebenen Zeit/von ca. 30 Metern geöffnet, wie es das Ziehen bewies ./Copyright by Fotoaktuell GmbH./Berlin SW. 68, Markgrafenstr. 87.
 "I photograph myself during a parachute jump. The photographer jumps with a parachute. The parachute has opened. This moment was decisive: the parachute had opened after the prescribed time of roughly 30 meters, as the drag made clear."
The artist, Berlin; to Vertrieb für Pressephotos (Christoph Netzle), Zurich, probably 1931 ; to Freudenberg GmbH (Hans Guggenbühl and Guido A. Pozzi), after 1930 and possibly in summer 1945 ; to Internationale Bilderagentur (Dr. Heinz Müller), Oberengstringen, Switzerland, 1945–47 ; to Dr. Roland Müller, Brugg, Switzerland, possibly February 1971 ; sold through Christie's New York (sale 8982, lot 272) to Michael Shapiro Gallery, San Francisco, October 6, 1998 ; purchased by Thomas Walther, 1998 ; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
 Roland Müller, e-mail to Simon Bieling, April 16, 2005.
 Ibid. This series was acquired in a lot comprising one to two hundred thousand photographs.
 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.
 Shapiro invoice.
- Format Metric
- Weight Single weight
- Thickness (mm) 0.18
- UV Fluorescence Recto negative Verso negative
- Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 18% Hardwood bleached sulfite 1% Rag 72% Bast 8% Softwood bleached kraft/soda 1% Softwood bleached kraft/soda
- 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: Al, P, S, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba
- Verso: Al, Si, P, 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).
Willi Ruge, “Ich fotografiere mich beim Absturz mit dem Fallschirm,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung 40, no. 21 (May 24, 1931): 844 (as Der Fallschirm hat sich geöffnet).
“Falling Parachutists Photographed by Themselves: Mid-Air Snapshots.” Illustrated London News 178, no. 4,810 (June 27, 1931): 1,095 (as A self-photograph of Herr Willi Ruge falling, showing the open parachute behind, and It seemed to me as if some ruffian had suddenly grabbed me by the collar of my coat and lifted me up! This was the decisive moment, because the pull showed that the parachute had unfolded and its braking action begun.).
“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 Curiosa autofotografía hecha por un paracaidista alemán en el instante en que, después de su arriesgado salto, el paracaídas se abre a las 30 metros).
“Parachute Jumper Photographs Himself While Falling.” Popular Science, October 1931, p. 44 (as Caught by the Shoulders).
“Photographs Self during ‘Chute Jump.'” Modern Mechanics and Inventions, November 1931, p. 103 (as The second of the self-portraits by Herr Willi Ruge, and It seemed to me as if some ruffian had suddenly grabbed me by the collar of my coat and lifted me up; this was the decisive moment, because the pull showed that the parachute had unfolded and its braking action begun.).