Between the two world wars, Renger-Patzsch was one of the champions of straight photography in Germany and an advocate for a modern aesthetic style known as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). He believed that photography’s chief value lay in its ability to render the texture and detail of physical objects with absolute precision. This close-up of the suffering face of Christ from a German Gothic Pietà was reproduced in the artist’s landmark book Die Welt ist Schön (The World Is Beautiful), published in 1928. The book’s sequence of one hundred tightly cropped and sharply focused images of plants, animals, landscapes, and industrial subjects suggested that the camera could disclose aspects of the essential nature of objects that were otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
Inscription: Stamped in blue ink on print, verso CL " RENGER-FOTO D.W.B. // ESSEN, GOETHESTR. 41[sideways]; inscribed in pencil on print, verso TL: " ZO CO [?]"
[Paul Katz, Bennington, VT]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, January 18, 1979
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 66," October 6, 2014–February 9, 2015.