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October 27, 2022

Acquisition: Grit Kallin-Fischer Photograph Highlights Pioneering Contributions of Women Photographers During the 1920s

Grit Kallin-Fischer, "Untitled (Freddo Bortoluzzi as Angel)"

Grit Kallin-Fischer
Untitled (Freddo Bortoluzzi as Angel), c. 1928–1930
gelatin silver print
image/sheet: 26.3 x 19.8 cm (10 3/8 x 7 13/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund
2022.54.1

The National Gallery of Art has recently acquired a photograph by Grit Kallin-Fischer (1897–1973)—an example of the pioneering contributions of women to the photographic innovation taking place in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Untitled (Freddo Bortoluzzi as Angel) (c. 1928–1930) is the first work by Kallin-Fischer to enter the collection and depicts her friend, the artist Alfredo "Freddo" Bortoluzzi (1905–1995), who went on to become a dancer and choreographer. The two met as students at the Bauhaus, an experimental art school in Dessau.
 
Kallin-Fischer was an established painter when she enrolled in the Bauhaus in 1926. She took courses with many noteworthy artists, including Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. She also worked in László Moholy-Nagy's metal workshop alongside Marianne Brandt. Kallin-Fischer and Bortoluzzi both participated in Oskar Schlemmer's radical theater workshop, which completely reimagined the discipline. Their friendship is documented in the portraits they later made of each other. Kallin-Fischer took several photographs of Bortoluzzi performing as an ethereal being. Wearing white makeup and dressed in a simple white sheath, he has a pair of wings that seem to sprout from his neck. A striking study of tonality, Kallin-Fischer's skill is revealed in her deft cropping of the picture. She has used the structure of a window to create a frame around her subject, an angel who looks down from above.

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