Artists such as Christian Schad, Man Ray or László Moholy-Nagy became interested in photography around 1920. In search of new forms of expression, they began experimenting with a “cameraless” technique, using controlled light exposure to give abstract structures shape on paper in so-called photograms. The new emphasis on – and visualization of – light as a creative device in its own right prompted a great number of other artists to depart from the direct reproduction of nature in their works and explore new possibilities. Alfred Ehrhardt, Marcel Duchamp, Anton Stankowski and others produced exceptional views with atypical perspectives and fascinating plays of light and shade.
Whereas artists like Imi Knoebel or Antoni Mikołajczyk used artificial light sources, Monika Baumgartl recorded the nocturnal trail of light left behind by the moon, giving time a visual manifestation. In a wholly different vein, the spectacular thunderbolts over Walter De Maria’s “Lightning Field” – products of chance – only reveal their true splendour when they are captured on paper.