Very close up:
Paul Citroen

Umbo (1902 – 1908)

Photograph by Umbo (Otto Maximilian Umbehr), silver gelatin paper, 21,1 x 16,2 cm
© Phyllis Umbehr/Galerie Kicken Berlin/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

This black-and-white photograph shows the face of the artist Paul Citroen. His ears, hair and chin have been cropped out of the close-up. The pores in his nose and cheeks and the wrinkles on his forehead are clearly visible. His dark eyes look straight at the camera. Little points of light are reflected in his pupils.

The photographer has pulled his sitter right up close. The face fills the whole frame. Every wrinkle, every pore, every freckle can be clearly distinguished. The dark eyes pin down the viewer. Reflexes of light on the pupils are the brightest spots in this black-and-white shot of the artist Paul Citroen.

This intimate portrait was taken by Umbo, whose full name was Otto Maximilian Umbehr (1902–1980). The two artists met as students at the Bauhaus, but Umbo did not discover photography until he graduated and moved to Berlin. His first camera was a gift from his friend Citroen, who also took pictures.

Umbo was soon one of the most innovative photographers in the Weimar Republic. His unbridled delight in experiments is not confined to his photographs. In his photojournalism too, he pushed the formal and technical boundaries of the medium to their limits, always in search of a new visual experience.

Untitled (Portrait of Paul Citroen)
Gelatin silver print
21,1 x 16,2 cm
Purchased with funds from Senator für Kulturelle Angelegenheiten, Berlin 1981

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