Heinz HAJEK-HALKE, (Optik) Enlarge 1 /1


Germany 1898 – 1983

(Optik) c.1928-29 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: 16.1 h x 23.0 w cm 16.1 h x 23.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1989
Accession No: NGA 89.2262

[The camera] may be said to make a picture of whatever it sees, the object glass is the eye of the instrument – the sensitive paper may be compared to the retina.
William Henry Fox Talbot, The pencil of nature

In the text accompanying the plate of glassware in The pencil of nature, Talbot makes the analogy between the camera lens and the human eye: Hajek-Halke makes the analogy pictorial by replacing his eye with the camera lens. That what the camera achieves is through the photographic process being filtered through the imagination of the photographer is certainly made clear in Optics. He was a leader of experimental photography in Germany in the 1920s and he was known for his photomontage work, inspired by the ideas of the Dadaists and Surrealists.

Later Hajek-Halke principally created photograms, camera-less images created through the objects being placed on light sensitive paper, and what he termed Lichtgrafiken or light diagrams. Finally, he even experimented with object-less photography, making luminograms, which recorded paths of light.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra