Railrod tracks at night, about 1930
Homagem to Max Ernst, 1937, collage
Franz Roh’s involvement with art extended from history, theory and criticism to production, which took the form of both “reality-photos” that captured the expressive and symbolic potential of fragments excerpted from the real world and experimental techniques—including negative printing, photomontage and collage—that enhance our capacity to experience the world visually. Although his career as a critic grew out of his ability to describe the characteristics of art movements in terms of the juxtaposition of opposites, the works of art he created demonstrate his ability to explore a multiplicity of approaches. The critic who proclaimed the waning of Expressionism and the rise of Magic Realism in post-war painting was also the artist who delighted equally in the object and the experiment, noting “next to a new world of objects we find the old seen anew.” As complex and multifaceted as the intellect and imagination of their maker, Roh’s photographs and collages underscored his belief in photography as a new form of visual communication in his own day. Today they encourage artists to embrace the newest technologies available when communicating their vision.
Virginia Heckert - Franz Roh Photography & Collage from the 1930s
at Ubu Gallery, New York
from September 14–December 22, 2006