God, 1918
gelatin silver print
signed and dated in ink (on the mount)
9 5/8 x 7½in. (24.3 x 19cm.)

Lot Essay

For over seventy years 'God' was attributed to Morton Schamberg as the first American 'ready made' Dada sculpture, due largely to the existence of this photograph and one other of 'God' in front of one of his paintings. But it has been recently reattributed to the more outrageous Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven who apparently left the sculpture with Schamberg when she moved from Philadelphia to New York. Schamberg had studied architecture and painting and was a close friend of the artist Charles Sheeler. Both Schamberg and Sheeler turned to photography to earn their living. Sheeler specialized in architectural photography and Schamberg in portraiture. The present lot is consistent in style with his portraiture, including the florid signature on the mount. It depicts 'God', a cast-iron plumbing trap inverted in a mitre-box that, combined with the incongruous title, is in keeping with other 'ready mades' that the Baroness had constructed. Schamberg made precise machine drawings and paintings but no similar sculptures. He died young, the same year this photograph was made, a victim of the world-wide flu epidemic.

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