[Mystery of the Street]

Artist: Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German, Düsseldorf 1902–1980 Hanover)

Date: 1928

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 29 x 23.5 cm (11 7/16 x 9 1/4 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.1100.49

Rights and Reproduction: © Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne and Phyllis Umbehr, Frankfurt/M.


Known as Umbo, Otto Umbehr studied with László Moholy-Nagy at the Bauhaus. Mystery of the Street highlights the unconventional nature of Umbo’s photography. He turns his overhead view of an unidentified Berlin street upside down, and his simple inversion creates an unsettling image in which the insubstantial dominates the substantial. The aerial perspective calls attention to the extended shadows cast on the ground, a surreal effect that recalls paintings by Giorgio De Chirico.