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Umbo. Photographer

From 9 February to 12 May the Sprengel Museum Hannover dedicates an exhibition to Otto Maximilian Umbehr, who is without doubt one of the pioneers of the New German Photography.

Umbo – ever since the retrospective organised by Herbert Molderings in 1995, if not earlier, this name has been synonymous with a kind of “Big Bang” in modern photography in the mid-1920s. Umbo, born as Otto Maximilian Umbehr in Düsseldorf in 1902, the second of ten children of a structural engineer and a teacher, is considered the inventor of the image of the “New Woman”, the new conception of the street and of photographic reporting per se. His name stands for the youth-driven departure of the “Wandervögel” of the Wilhelminian era to early Bauhaus. It also stands for the media city of Berlin strongly influenced by Eastern European immigrants, for a rapidly developing film, music, theatre and cabaret scene, and for glimpses inside the courtyards and kitchen-living rooms of overpopulated tenement blocks. Umbo: This is the doubting young artist who, thanks to the encouragement of his Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten and artist friend Paul Citroen, becomes famous as a photographer practically overnight – yet always remains bohemian, an eternal “Wandervogel”.

Rediscovered in the 1970s

Umbo who, so the story goes, survived National Socialism despite being “anti”, whose Berlin studio and archive were fully destroyed by bombing in 1943 and whose attempts to revive his earlier status as an avantgarde photographer in the post-war period of the Federal German Economic Miracle in Hannover proved fruitless; whose expressive early work that matured into New Objectivity was rediscovered in the 1970s; and who in 1979, shortly before his death, experienced his first solo exhibition in a museum: in the ‘Spectrum Photogalerie im Kunstmuseum Hannover mit Sammlung Sprengel’. This exhibition, which presents a selection of roughly 200 works and numerous documents, therefore draws essentially on Umbo’s estate. The basis is formed by over 600 photographs and extensive source material, supplemented by early acquisitions by the partner institutions Berlinische Galerie and Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, together with works obtained by the Sprengel Museum Hannover from Simon Guttmann’s Report post-war archive in London. Safeguarded for decades by his daughter Phyllis Umbehr and Rudolf Kicken (Galerie Kicken), Umbo’s estate was jointly acquired in 2016 by Bauhaus Dessau, Berlinische Galerie and Sprengel Museum Hannover, thanks to the efforts of numerous partners. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.

An exhibition of the Sprengel Museum Hannover in cooperation with the Berlinische Galerie and with kind support from the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau. Sponsored by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Germany’s Federal Cultural Foundation) and by the Land of Lower Saxony.

Event(s): 09.02.2019 to 12.05.2019
from 10:00 to 20:00 o'clock
09.02.2019 to 12.05.2019
Wednesdays  Thursdays  Fridays  Saturdays  Sundays 
from 10:00 to 18:00 o'clock

Sprengel Museum Hannover

  • Kurt-Schwitters-Platz
  • 30169 Hannover
Admission 7,- €
reduced 4,- €
Fridays free entry