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Staged Self-Portraits by the Photographer Fritz Möller
 
  An album "Physiognomic Studies" made for the World Exhibition in Paris, 1900
 
 
   
Foreword
 
Why would a successful, late 19th century photographer shave off his beard and take himself as the model for numerous series - in a wide variety of poses and disguises? Why did he photograph himself pulling faces, dressing up and generally contorting? What moved him to assemble these pictures in an album entitled "Contributions to Physiognomy" and to show this at the Paris World Exhibition in 1897? And why did he receive a gold medal for it? Was he following a fashionable phenomenon, was this really a scientific contribution to physiognomy, or was it his own particular form of self-realisation?
 
Today, we are no longer able to unearth the full background behind this staging of the self in photographs. The reproduction of a total of more than 200 photographs, however, is almost bound to give some pleasure to today's viewer. In addition, three authors have essayed a critical approach to the photographer and amateur actor Fritz Mšller from different viewpoints in this volume, as well as illuminating the social background which contributed to the evolution of this most unusual work.
 
The sequence and the subdivision of the reproductions into groups correspond to the original Möller exhibited in Paris. Only the pictures numbered 216 to 219, which were originally reproduced on one page, have been distributed over two pages here. The effects of ageing and rubbing which emerged on the prints during the course of over 100 years have been carefully retouched by Herr Lenk (Scan-Color Leipzig) during the process of scanning. However, minor traces of time on the reproductions are of course unavoidable.
 
We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Dr. Volker Möller, the photographer's grandson, who made his grandfather's album available to us and the authors for over a year.
 
Halle, November 2001

T. Steuber   H. Grote   M. Götze