Neues Sehen

The Neues Sehen, also known as New Vision or Neue Optik, was a movement, not specifically restricted to photography, which was developed in the 1920s. The movement was directly related to the principles of the Bauhaus. Neues Sehen considered photography to be an autonomous artistic practice with its own laws of composition and lighting, through which the lens of the camera becomes a second eye for looking at the world. This new way of seeing was based on the use of unexpected framings, the search for contrast in form and light, the use of high and low camera angles, etc.[1] The movement was contemporary with New Objectivity with which it shared a defence of photography as a specific medium of artistic expression, although Neues Sehen favoured experimentation and the use of technical means in photographic expression.

Elsa Thiemann Faschingsmasken oder 3 durchgeschnittene Zwiebeln 1930er Jahre
'Carnival masks, or three sliced onions', by Elsa Thiemann, 1930s


The inter-war years saw a significant change in the field of photography. On one hand, there was a reaction against the painterly approach; while on the other, there was a renewed interest in the new forms of artistic expression. The three main currents developed during that period are Neues Sehen, New Objectivity and Direct Photography. All of them favoured specificity in the photographic medium and its separation from painting. They stood against the photographic associations that were striving to preserve painterly models, accusing them of being unsubstantial, of having a narrow outlook limited to their own assumptions, and of producing images that were unattractive and removed from reality.

But Neues Sehen was also criticised by the defenders of direct photography and New Objectivity for being too experimental, inconsistent, and producing amateur photography of poor technical standards. To defend themselves against the latter, they created classes of pure photography at the Bauhaus school and evolved toward ever-greater objectivity in photography.

The movement was formed mainly by young Russian Constructivists such as Alexander Rodchenko and the Bauhaus teachers László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Peterhans. Bauhaus students highly influenced by the Neues Sehen included Elsa Thiemann, Ivana Tomljenović-Meller, Iwao Yamawaki, Erich Consemüller and Andreas Feininger. Moholy-Nagy's wife, Lucia Moholy, was also a noted Neues Sehen photographer. Their stylistic resources included unexpected angles, experimenting with light and shadows to produce large dark areas in the photograph, the use of photomontage and collage, and photographic composition according to the strict principles of perception of the Bauhaus.[2] Creativity was more developed in the subject matter and in the new way of interpreting the photographic image.

The works are usually didactic since they force the viewer to confront images that are not easily recognisable as elements of reality. Consequently, these are works of uneven quality and experimental nature.

Film und Foto

The exhibition FIFO, organised in 1929 by the Deutscher Werkbund in Stuttgart, is considered the first great exhibition of modern European and American photography.[3] It was seen as a showcase for the artistic ideas of the New Vision. Shortly before the opening, in the autumn of 1928, László Moholy-Nagy and Sigfried Giedion, who were in charge of the main room in the exhibition, introduced a change in the initial programme and turned it into a representation of the New Vision.[4]

The exhibition included 1,200 works by 191 artists belonging to the fields of cinema, painting, photography and the visual arts in general, and can be considered the culmination of experimental production realised with these media. In Germany it was seen as a retrospective of these fields before the rigid aesthetics of the Nazi regime were imposed.[3]

The selection of works was made by several well known figures including Moholy-Nagy, who was one of the selectors for European photography, and Edward Weston, who was in charge of the American section. Artists included Berenice Abbott, Willi Baumeister, Marcel Duchamp, Hein Gorny, Hannah Höch, Eugène Atget, Man Ray, Alexander Rodchenko, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham, Charles Sheeler and Brett Weston, among others. The selected works were characterised by unexpected angles, such as the photographs taken by Willi Ruge from a parachute, the use of photomontage, etc. After seeing the exhibition, the critic Franz Roh wrote an essay entitled Foto-Auge (Photo-eye), asserting that photography had changed in a definitive manner.[5] In the same year, the exhibition travelled to Zurich, Berlin, Danzig and Vienna, and in 1931 it was presented in Tokyo and Osaka.


  1. ^ Moholy-Nagy, László, (1932) The new vision, from material to architecture. New York: Brewer, Warren & Putnam.
  2. ^ Ivana Tomljenović, 1930 Bauhaus Canteen, Dessau. (Accessed: 11 January 2017)
  3. ^ a b Honnef, Klaus (author), Sachsse, Rolf (ed.), Thomas, Karin (ed.) (1997) German Photography 1870-1970: Power of a Medium. Cologne:Dumont Buchverlag
  4. ^ Lugon, Oliver (2012), "Schooling the New Vision": László Moholy-Nagy, Sigfried Giedion, and the Film und Foto Exhibition (Accessed: 12 January 2017)
  5. ^ Roh, Franz, Foto-Auge (parallel titles=Oeil et photo = Photo-eye). London:Thames and Hudson. (1974 facsimile, in German, English and French, of the original published in 1929 by Akademischer Verlag). ISBN 978-0500540176

Further reading

  • Balsells, David (2010) Praga, París, Barcelona: modernidad fotográfica de 1918 a 1948. La Fábrica. MNAC ISBN 978-84-8043-219-1
  • Ingelmann, Inka Graeve (2014). Mechanics and Expression: Franz Roh and the New Vision—A Historical Sketch in Object:Photo. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection 1909–1949. An Online Project of The Museum of Modern Art. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2014.
  • The New Vision: Photography between the World Wars. Metropolitan Museum of Art: Distributed by HN Abrams, ISBN 9780870995507.
  • Moholy-Nagy, László; Hoffmann, Daphne M. (translator) (2005) The new vision: fundamentals of Bauhaus design, painting, sculpture, and architecture. Dover, ISBN 9780486436937.
  • Foto Auge. Thames and Hudson, ISBN 978-0500540176.
  • Aufsätze, autobiographische Notizen, Briefe, Erinnerungen. Verlag der Kunst, ISBN 9783364002736.
  • Wege der zeitgenössischen Fotografie. In: Wolfgang Kemp (Hrsg.), Theorie der Fotografie II 1912-1945 (in German). Schirmer / Mosel. ISBN 9783888140419.
Cloudscape photography

Cloudscape photography is photography of clouds or sky.

An early cloudscape photographer, Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870–1943), was noted for his black and white photographs of heavy skies and dark clouds.In the early to middle 20th century, American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) created a series of photographs of clouds, called "equivalents" (1925–1931). According to an essay on the series at the Phillips Collection website, "A symbolist aesthetic underlies these images, which became increasingly abstract equivalents of his own experiences, thoughts, and emotions". More recently, photographers such as Ralph Steiner, Robert Davies and Tzeli Hadjidimitriou (see catalogues listed below) have been noted for producing such images.

Dye coupler

Dye coupler is present in chromogenic film and paper used in photography, primarily color photography. When color developer reduces ionized (exposed) silver-halide crystals, the developer is oxidized, and the oxidized molecules react with dye coupler molecules to form dye in situ. The silver image is removed by subsequent bleach and fix processes, so the final image will consist of the dye image.

Dye coupler technology has seen considerable advancement since the beginning of modern color photography. Major film and paper manufacturers have continually improved the stability of the image dye by improving couplers, particularly since the 1980s, so that archival properties of images are enhanced in newer color papers and films. Generally speaking, dye couplers for paper use are given more emphasis on the image permanence than those for film use, but some modern films (such as Fujichrome Provia films) use variants of couplers that were originally designed for paper use to further improve the image permanence.

Fire photography

Fire photography is the act of taking photographs of firefighting operations. People who practise this form of photography are called fire photographers.

Since fire photography involves being close to dangerous situations, fire photographers must have special skills and knowledge about emergency incident scenes, operations, health, and safety. Fire photographers are often required to wear firefighter protective equipment.

Golden triangle (composition)

The Golden Triangle (Composition) rule is a rule of thumb in visual composition for photographs or paintings, especially those which have elements that follow diagonal lines. The frame is divided into four triangles of two different sizes, done by drawing one diagonal from one corner to another, and then two lines from the other corners, touching the first at 90 degree angles. There are a couple ways this can be used:

1. Filling one of the triangles with the subject2. Placing the diagonal elements so that they run along two of the lines

Ivana Tomljenović-Meller

Ivana Tomljenović-Meller (1906 – 1988), born Ivana Tomljenović, was a graphic designer and art teacher from Zagreb who attended the Bauhaus art school in Germany.Her main interests were photography and poster design. She was also a semi-professional athlete.She studied at the Royal College for Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, now the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb, from 1924 to 1928, and after graduating went to the Kunstgewerbeschule (a college of applied arts) in Vienna, now the University of Applied Arts Vienna. However, she left Vienna in 1929 to attend the Bauhaus in Dessau. After undertaking Josef Albers' first year preliminary course she started the photography course taught by Walter Peterhans.Tomljenović-Meller took many informal photographs of everyday life at the Bauhaus, showing students in the canteen, and relaxing and socialising. These document the Neues Sehen (New Vision), an avantgarde movement of the 1920s and 1930s espoused by László Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Rodchenko. It encouraged photography of ordinary scenes which used unfamiliar perspectives and angles, close-up details, use of light and shadow, and experimentation with multiple exposure.Her father, Dr. Tomislav Tomljenović (1877 - 1945), was a prominent Croatian politician and lawyer, and although she came from an affluent middle class family, she joined the Communist Party of Germany and became politically active. When Hannes Meyer was dismissed from his post as Bauhaus director in August 1930, all known Communist students were also thrown out. A number of others, like Tomljenović, left in solidarity.Tomljenović-Meller then went to Berlin and worked as a poster designer, and as a stage designer with the Dadaist artist John Heartfield on a theater set for Communist director Erwin Piscator. In the same period she participated in the European championship in Czech handball. She then moved to Paris in 1931 to study literature at the Sorbonne. In 1932 she moved to Prague and married Alfred Meller, owner of the ROTA advertising company. After Meller’s death in 1935, Tomljenović-Meller returned to Zagreb and later moved to Belgrade, where she taught poster design. She returned to Zagreb in 1938 to teach at the Third State High School for Women. She stopped teaching during WWII, but resumed after the war was over until retiring in 1962.Tomljenović-Meller died in Zagreb in 1988.

Joaquim Gomis

Joaquim Gomis Serdañons (1902 in Barcelona – 1991) was a Catalan photographer, collector, entrepreneur, and promoter of the arts.

Gomis was born in Barcelona on September 19, 1902 to a wealthy family. His father owned a business in the cotton trade and his grandfather Cels Gomis (Reus, 1842 - Barcelona, 1915) was a civil engineer with intellectual interests. At the age of twelve, Gomis acquired his first camera−a Brownie−which he used to take his first photographs. In 1919 he received his degree in accounting, and beginning in 1921 he lived in England and the United States. These periods abroad enabled Gomis to produce photo series based on the architecture and urban landscapes of the places he visited. In 1929 he married Odette Cherbonnier in Paris.

Joaquim Gomis was well-respected in artistic circles, which were somewhat taken aback when he began photographing the work of Gaudí, an architect who was underrated at the time. In 1930 Gomis became a founding member and the first president of the Amics de l'art nou (Friends of New Art) association and was also a founding member of Club 49 in 1949. During the Spanish Civil War, Gomis lived in Paris and traveled in Europe. In 1939, at the end of the war, he returned to Barcelona.

In 1940, in collaboration with Joan Prats, Gomis published his fotoscops, a series of books with images in sequential order. Although his first series was about a eucalyptus, some of the subjects he covered were Gaudí's Sagrada Familia church, the Cathedral of Tarragona, the works of Joan Miró, and the city of Barcelona.

His photographic production can be associated with the Neues Sehen movement and is considered one of the exceptions within a context dominated by pictorialism. In 1952 he was named president of the Amics de Gaudí (Friends of Gaudí) group, and from 1972 to 1975 he presided over the Fundació Joan Miró.

Exhibitions of Joaquim Gomis' work include a show held at the IVAM in Valencia in 1997, with previously unpublished images from the period he spent in the United States from 1922 to 1923. Some of his works are held in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Kunstbibliothek Berlin

The Berlin Art Library (German: Kunstbibliothek Berlin) is an agency of the Berlin State Museums under the auspices of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. It has approximately 400,000 volumes and ranks among Germany's leading institutions specializing in the literature of Art History. The library is located on the Kulturforum in Berlin-Tiergarten, Germany and attracts 35,000 visitors annually.The Library also has a comprehensive photographic collection. Its holdings date back to the very early days of photography, through Pictorialism around the late 19th and early 20th centuries, through the Neues Sehen or New Vision of the 1920s, to the new artistic styles of the present day. Since June 2004, the collection has held exhibitions under the same roof as the Helmut Newton Foundation at the Museum of Photography opposite the Zoologischer Garten station. After a complete restoration of the Kaisersaal, the Art Library Photographic Collection now has its own exhibition space.

Selections of works from the library's many other collections are regularly presented in special exhibitions. The neighboring Kupferstichkabinett Berlin (Museum of Prints and Drawings) concentrates primarily on fine art drawings and prints. The Art Library does not circulate, but its collections can be viewed upon request in the Art Library's study room.

Lead room

In photography, filmography and other visual arts, lead room, or sometimes nose room, is the space in front, and in the direction of, moving or stationary subjects. Well-composed shots leave space in the direction the subject is facing or moving. When the human eye scans a photograph for the first time it will expect to see a bit in front of the subject.For example, moving objects such as cars require lead room. If extra space is allowed in front of a moving car, the viewer can see that it has someplace to go; without this visual padding, the car's progress will seem impeded.

List of photographic processes

A list of photographic processing techniques.

Nazarene movement

The epithet Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art. The name Nazarene came from a term of derision used against them for their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hair style.


Neo-Fauvism was a poetic style of painting from the mid-1920s proposed as a challenge to Surrealism.The magazine Cahiers d'Art was launched in 1926 and its writers mounted a challenge to the Surrealist practice of automatism by seeing it not in terms of unconscious expression, but as another development of traditional artistry. They identified a group of artists as the exponents of this and termed them Neo-Fauves.Although these artists were later mostly forgotten, the movement had an effect of disillusioning the Surrealist group with the technique of graphic automatism as a revolutionary means of by-passing conventional aesthetics, ideology and commercialism.Neo-Fauvism has been seen as the last trend within painting that could be marketed as a coherent style.


A photogram is a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light. The usual result is a negative shadow image that shows variations in tone that depends upon the transparency of the objects used. Areas of the paper that have received no light appear white; those exposed through transparent or semi-transparent objects appear grey.The technique is sometimes called cameraless photography. It was used by Man Ray in his exploration of rayographs. Other artists who have experimented with the technique include László Moholy-Nagy, Christian Schad (who called them "Schadographs"), Imogen Cunningham and Pablo Picasso. Variations of the technique have also been used for scientific purposes.

Push processing

Push processing in photography, sometimes called uprating, refers to a film developing technique that increases the effective sensitivity of the film being processed. Push processing involves developing the film for more time, possibly in combination with a higher temperature, than the manufacturer's recommendations. This technique results in effective overdevelopment of the film, compensating for underexposure in the camera.


In photography, a snoot is a tube or similar object that fits over a studio light or portable flash and allows the photographer to control the direction and radius of the light beam. These may be conical, cylindrical, or rectangular in shape. Snoots can isolate a subject when using a flash. They help by stopping "light spill", or when lighting falls in a larger footprint than intended.

Sun printing

Sun printing may refer to various printing techniques which use sunlight as a developing or fixative agent.


Superflat is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. It is also the name of a 2001 art exhibition, curated by Murakami, that toured West Hollywood, Minneapolis and Seattle.


Superstroke is a term used for a contemporary art movement with its origins in South Africa. Superstroke is one of the influential art movements regarding African modernism and abstraction. The word "Superstroke" implies the super expressive brush stroke. The Superstroke art movement was initially founded as a reaction to the impact that the Superflat art movement, founded by Takashi Murakami had on modern contemporary art.

Vernacular photography

Vernacular photography is the creation of photographs that take everyday life and common things as subjects.

Though the more commonly known definition of the word "vernacular" is a quality of being "indigenous" or "native", the use of the word in relation to art and architecture refers more to the meaning of the following sub-definition (of vernacular architecture) from The Oxford English Dictionary: "concerned with ordinary domestic and functional buildings rather than the essentially monumental."

Examples of vernacular photographs include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photo-booth images.

Vernacular photographs are types of accidental art, in that they often are unintentionally artistic.

Walter Peterhans

Walter Peterhans (12 June 1897 – 12 April 1960) was a German photographer best known as a teacher and course leader of photography at the Bauhaus from 1929 until 1933, and at the Reimann School in Berlin under Hugo Häring.In the 1930s Peterhans was a proponent of the Neues Sehen (New Vision) movement, taking close-up, still-life photographs of everyday objects and images that played with unusual angles and lighting. At the Bauhaus, Peterhans' teaching involved using the theories of Kant, Plato and Pythagoras to show how beauty is constructed in the mind, and how it can be created in works of art.

Peterhans immigrated to Chicago in 1938 to teach the 'visual training' course to architecture students at Illinois Institute of Technology under the direction of Mies van der Rohe. There were ten units to this course, to be followed over four semesters. The course was so successful, it survived Peterhans by over thirty years.

In 1953 Peterhans was part of the founding core faculty at the Ulm School of Design (Hochschule für Gestaltung, 1953-1968) in Germany, which became a renowned, influential design school.In the United States he was briefly married to American architect Gertrude Lempp Kerbis before he married Brigitte Schlaich, also an architect, in 1957. He died of an unexpected heart attack at the house of his in-laws in Stetten im Remstal, near Stuttgart, and is buried there.The Museum Folkwang in Essen owns the copyright for Peterhans.


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