Art/ Collection/ Art Object

[Billboards at Night, Detroit]

Artist:
Knud Lonberg-Holm (American, born Denmark, 1895–1972)
Date:
1924
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
7.8 x 10 cm (3 1/16 x 3 15/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2000
Accession Number:
2000.127
Not on view
When the German architect Erich Mendelsohn returned from a visit to the United States in 1924, he brought with him a portfolio of remarkable images by Lonberg-Holm, a Danish architect with de Stijl and Constructivist associations. Lonberg-Holm had moved to the States in 1923 and scanned its fabled modernist cities with a fresh European eye and a 35-millimeter handheld Leica. Mendelsohn published Lonberg-Holm's "worm's-eye," bird's-eye, and neon-lit photographs without credit in "Amerika" (1926), his phenomenally successful picture survey of a country made of steel and concrete, electricity and advertisements.


Throughout the 1920s Lonberg-Holm's dazzling "lightscapes" and views of skyscrapers cropped up in design and architecture magazines in Holland, Germany, and Russia; they also appeared in two important sourcebooks on the new photography and clearly influenced the artists Aleksandr Rodchenko and El Lissitzky. By the 1930s, however, Lonberg-Holm had given up architecture for advertising, and his photographs, never signed or dated, no longer circulated. Fortunately, a recent study by architectural historian Marc Dessauce clarifies Lonberg-Holm's precocious contribution to the New Vision. The Museum acquired a spectacular night view of New York City and this glowing paean to electric advertising, together with five other images, from the artist's estate.

Inscription: Stamped in purple ink on print, verso: "C60"
Artist's estate; Marc Dessauce, New York

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