Artist: Otto Steinert (German, 1915–1978)

Date: 1950

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 60 x 46.8 cm (23 5/8 x 18 7/16 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.1056

Rights and Reproduction: © Marlis Steinert, Thônex


The communities of avant-garde artists that had flourished in Europe during the 1920s and early 1930s were all but destroyed by World War II. It was not until the late 1940s that an innovative style returned to photography in Germany, largely through the efforts of the medical-doctor-turned-photographer Otto Steinert, founder of the Subjective Photography movement. Rather than exploring external realities, the Subjective Photographers investigated the complexities of the individual inner state. They retained many of the experimental techniques practiced at the Bauhaus before the war but worked in a darker, edgier style exemplified by disorienting and expressionistic works, such as this hallucinatory view of a silhouetted figure moving swiftly through a shadowy urban landscape that evokes the dream world of the subconscious.