Umbo (Otto Umbehr) symbolises a kind of “big bang” in modern photography of 1920s – as art historian Herbert Moldering put it during his retrospective of the artist in 1995. With his rich imagination and pleasure in experiment, Umbo was a key influence in New Vision (Neues Sehen). He is credited with inventing the image of New Woman, the new streetscape and photographic reportage in general. His name is associated with hauling the “Wandervögel” youth movement out of the Wilhelmine Period and into the early Bauhaus, and also with Berlin sprouting wings as a media metropolis. Umbo is, besides, the young artist plagued by self-doubt who shot to fame almost overnight thanks to encouragement from his Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten and his artist friend Paul Citroen, and yet he always remained a bohemian on an eternal quest.
With a selection of about 200 works and numerous documents from the estate of the artist born under the name Otto Maximilian Umbehr (1902 – 1980), the Berlinische Galerie follows the Sprengel Museum in Hanover in presenting this first major retrospective in 24 years. The exhibition also celebrates our acquisition of the Umbo estate, made possible in 2016 together with partners Bauhaus Dessau and Sprengel Museum Hannover thanks to financial support from a number of benefactors.