In the heyday of the European avant-garde, various artists, including Christian Schad, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy, explored the idea of cameraless photography, placing objects directly onto photo-sensitive papers to create what were known as “photograms” (a term actually coined in 1858). This would have a profound impact on the development of abstract photography later in the century.
The German printmaker and painter Christian Schad joined the Zurich Dada group after moving to Switzerland during World War I. The Dada movement, with its “anti-art” aesthetic, was a nurturing environment for mixed-media experiments of all kinds, including experimental photography. In 1918, Schad began creating what the Dadaist Tristan Tzara referred to as “Schadographs“, a pun on the artist’s name and the German word for shadow, “Schad.” Schad was the first artist to use contact-printing for artistic effect, placing objects such as string, newspaper, fabric, and torn paper – often rummaged from trash bins – on sheets of photographic paper, and exposing them to light by leaving them in his window.
And because on December 20th 2017 I forgot to take a photo, I posted one from something I found at home and called it “Dark“.