A Cause for Celebration: Object:Photo

Jan 5, 2015 7:06PM
In her essay on the emergence and rediscovery of European avant-garde photography in The Museum of Modern Art's essential Object:Photo, presenting Modern photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection (1909-1949), Maria Morris Hambourg writes that the collection "represents not just one man's passionate attempt to recuperate what was lost but a group effort that combined the insights of many collectors, scholars, dealers and experts. While lacunae will always persist, thrilling new discoveries continue to be made, filling in pieces of the mosaic. No soothsayer imagined that an "Anderson collection" existed, that it would surface in 1995, or that it would be correctly identified as a major part of the assemblage of Kurt Kirchbach, the most important privet collector in prewar Germany. Or take the case of El Lissitsky, who died in 1941 in Stalin's Russia and whose revolutionary work in photography had been of very brief duration. As rare as paintings by Vermeer, Lissitzky's original photographs are as coveted by those in this field. Certainly Priska Pasquer in her Cologne gallery never dreamed that a dozen of them, languishing for decades behind the Iron Curtain at an East German publishing house, would miraculously drop into her lap like Danae's shower of gold one fine day in 1966. These and countless other small and large miracles of survival and recovery are salvaging the memory of the European photographic avant-garde. However incomplete, our picture of the past continues to coalesce, and in view of the photographs in this collection and the research inspired by them, the process of rewriting the history is ongoing and vigorous—a cause for gratitude and, certainly, for celebration." El Lissitzky's 1926 "Runner in the City (Experiment for a Fresco for a Sports-Club)" is reproduced from Object:Photo.
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019