[Mystery of the Street]

Artist: Umbo (Otto Umbehr) (German, Düsseldorf 1902–1980 Hanover)

Date: 1928

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 29 x 23.5 cm (11 7/16 x 9 1/4 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.1100.49

Rights and Reproduction: © Galerie Rudolf Kicken, Cologne and Phyllis Umbehr, Frankfurt/M.


This photograph does not describe what Otto Umbehr saw when he looked out his window in Berlin, but what he discovered when he turned his overhead view of the street upside down. His simple inversion (indicated by his signature "Umbo" in the lower right corner) posits an unsettling world in which the insubstantial dominates the substantial, and imagination intercepts cognition.