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Syphonie d'une Grande Ville
Swann Galleries - New York
Sale 2414, Graphic Design, 10 May 2016, lot: 32
Umbo (Otto Umbehr) pioneered a new aesthetic of photography and design in inter-war Germany, to little contemporary success. After dropping out of the Bauhaus school, he retained the influences and friendships of Johannes Itten and Paul Citroen. While working as a camera assistant to Walter Ruttmann on his 1927 avant-garde film "Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Gro▀stadt" (Symphony of a Great City), Umbo created promotional photomontages for the film, such as this program for its French release. The film's avant-garde nature, devoid of a structured script or narrative, married well with the artist's blunt and pointed photographic presentation, both aiming to present the raw reality of daily life in Berlin. The photomontages also present sharp political and cultural commentary through his purposeful collages, such as in The Roving Reporter pictured on the back of this program, which visually conveys the towering influence of the media and technology over German society. After spending time as a photojournalist during the Second World War, Umbo continued his photographic work, however he received scant recognition and gave up his craft in the 1950s. It was not until his work was re-examined in the 1970s that he received critical recognition as a pioneer of avant-garde photography and design. Film und Fotoplakate p. 137.