Early in his artistic career, Sommer began collecting objects, many of which he found while frequenting local junkyards. Relying on chance, the artist went looking for the discarded treasures that he would then combine into compelling compositions and photograph. In 1950, Sommer commented: “Photography is well adapted to work by the laws of chance. Poetic and speculative photographs can result if one works carefully and accurately, yet letting chance relationships have full play.”
The whimsical, uncanny arrangements of small items that Sommer started to create around 1946, the year Ernst moved to Arizona, echo similar practices by the Dadaists and surrealists, who also embraced chance in the 1920s and 1930s. While creating these works, however, Sommer also maintained his concern with pictorial logic and sought out elements that would look striking together in the fine gradations of grey tones he achieved in his meticulously crafted prints. Though chance helped Sommer find the objects, he kept them in his studio for years or even decades, waiting for the right combination to present itself. The objects arranged in this photograph reveal how Sommer experimented with ways to create formal balance between the rectangular and circular shapes and the different textures of the foreground and background while adding such unsettling items as the fake eye that looks back at the viewer and the small knob-like half-sphere that appears to be its blind counterpart.