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A work made of gelatin silver print.
© 2018 Phyllis Umbehr/Galerie Kicken Berlin/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.




Umbo (Otto Umbehr)
German, 1902–1980

About this artwork

After studying at the Bauhaus, Otto Umbehr, who was known professionally as Umbo, worked in film production, in an arts and crafts workshop, and even as a clown. In 1928 he joined Dephot, a German photojournalism agency, and continued working as a freelance photographer for the majority of his career. Umbo’s works were known for their dark humor, seen here as a mannequin’s molded legs and feathery slippers are transformed from elements of consumer display into symbols of erotic dismemberment. Through such images Umbo’s work was linked to the avant-garde interest in animated puppets or automatons as surrogates for human desire, an interest cultivated by German writers and artists in the 1910s and 1920s and embraced by the nascent Surrealist movement in the mid-1920s. In 1932, New York art dealer Julien Levy featured Umbo’s work in one of the first Surrealist exhibitions in the United States.


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Umbo (Otto Umbehr)




Germany (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1928–1929


Gelatin silver print


Inscribed recto, lower right, in black ink: "Umbo"; inscribed verso, upper right, in graphite: "W/2"; verso, lower center, in graphite: "© [?]"


Image/paper: 29.6 × 20.9 cm (11 11/16 × 8 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean and Julien Levy

Reference Number



© 2018 Phyllis Umbehr/Galerie Kicken Berlin/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

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