© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Otto Steinert, German (Saarbrücken, Germany 1915 - 1978 Essen, Germany)
Still Life with Fish
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Stilleben mit Fisch
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Multiple exposure gelatin silver print, ferrotyped
Gelatin silver print
39.8 × 29.2 cm (15 11/16 × 11 1/2 in.)
mount: 43.5 × 33 cm (17 1/8 × 13 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: On recto, in ball point pen: Otto Steinert 1955; on verso, in blue crayon Otto Steinert, 2/XII/55
  • (not assigned): On verso, in blue crayon: Otto Steinert, 2/XII/55. Saarbrücken
  • (not assigned): On verso, in graphite: Stilleben mit Fisch
  • (not assigned): On verso, in graphite, by a modern hand: OSK#092 (4.1)
[Kicken Berlin], sold; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 2016.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Antonia Paepcke DuBrul Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
Steinert, a physician and self-taught photographer, remains best known for his role as the leader of the postwar movement referred to as “subjective photography.” In 1955, he published his definitive essay “On the Creative Possibilities of Photography,” wherein techniques such as close-ups, negative printing (or solarization), and prolonged and shortened exposure are described as “humanized, individualized photography.” In Still Life with Fish, the bourgeois place setting—floral patterned platter, metal basket, male and female painted portraits hung snugly on the wall—appears carefully composed. But the hauntingly semi-transparent fish on the plate in the foreground, superimposed using multiple or prolonged exposure, yields an ironic turn. The contrast of textures and patterns (straight lines of the tablecloth, polka dot motif of the wallpaper) and a strong play of light and shadow readily reveal the artifice of the still life
and the pretensions of unseen dwellers.

Publication History

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 402-404, 413 (detail), cat. no. 59.1, ill. (b/w)

Exhibition History

Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/09/2018 - 06/03/2018

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu