Apr 27, 2023 - Sale 2634

Sale 2634 - Lot 134

Price Realized: $ 10,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 20,000
WILLI RUGE (1892-1961)
Photo of Myself at the Moment of my Jump, from the series I Photograph Myself During a Parachute Jump. Silver print, the image measuring 5 1/2x8 inches (14x20.3 cm.), the sheet 7x9 1/2 inches (17.8x24.1 cm.), with a caption label, press stamps, and various notations in pencil and ink on verso. 1931

Ruge was a photojournalist who was equal parts photographer and daredevil, publishing photo essays that took the viewer along on incredible feats of speed and perspective. A certified pilot and parachutist, Ruge carefully choreographed his plans to photograph a descent from an airplane, positioning another photographer in an airplane and a third on the ground. The full series of images thus includes Ruge's own shots, as well as images of him falling and the faces of those watching from the ground. Ruge made at least two exposures in freefall, one of which is offered here, and then more on the glide after opening his parachute. The story was published in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung as well as the Illustrated London News and three American magazines.

Though Ruge had gone as far as founding his own picture agency, Fotoaktuell, surviving prints from this series are rare, as his archive was destroyed during an air raid on Berlin in 1943. We know of this example and one other, held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (Thomas Walther Collection). The photograph represents a remarkable example modern self-portraiture. Ruge's innovative approach foreshadows the modern era of selfies and action photography.