Umbo, born Otto Maximilian Umbehr (January 18, 1902 – May 13, 1980), was a German photographer.


Otto Umbehr was born in Düsseldorf and is known for his photo journalism as well as artworks.[1] Umbehr was the second of six children of industrial architect Karl Friedrich Umbehr. His mother Frieda died when he was a young boy. He was trained in Duisburg, Aachen and Düsseldorf. In 1921, he studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar where he became acquainted with Johannes Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Citroen, Wassily Kandinsky and Eva Besnyö. He was influenced by László Moholy-Nagy.

With Citroen's help, Umbehr took on the artist name of Umbo and started a photo studio in 1926. He made photo collages as a camera assistant for the 1927 film by Walter Ruttmann called Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis.[2] In 1928 he became one of the founding members of the agency Dephot (Deutscher Photo Service GmbH) where he was friends with Felix H. Man and Robert Capa.[2] The agency was closed by the Nazis in 1933. During the Nazi period, Umbo worked as a photojournalist. In 1943 his photo archives, containing 50,000–60,000 negatives, were destroyed in a bombing raid on Berlin. Only a few of his works from that period have survived.

After the war Umbo returned to Hanover with his wife, the graphic designer Imgard Wanders, and their daughter. He lost his left eye, but that did not prevent him from continuing his art. He is known for photos of the ruins of postwar Hanover and he later taught photography at the School of Applied Arts there.

He died in Hanover in 1980.


  • Bernhard Holeczek (zusammen mit Christiane Hinze und ): UMBO Photographien 1925–1933. im , Hannover 1979. (Ausstellungskatalog Hannover 1979)
  • Christiane Hinze: Aspekte des Bildjournalismus – exemplarisch aufgezeigt am Beispiel Otto Umbehr (UMBO), Examensarbeit an der Universitaet Hannover, 3. Mai 1979
  • : UMBO. Vom Bauhaus zum Bildjournalismus. , Düsseldorf 1995. ISBN 3-928762-42-7 (Ausstellungskatalog Düsseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, München, Paris 1995–1996)
  • Herbert Molderings: Umbo: Otto Umbehr 1902–1980. Richter Verlag, Düsseldorf 1996. ISBN 3-928762-43-5
  • Herbert Molderings: Umbo. Centre National de la Photographie, Paris 1997, (Photo Poche 66). ISBN 978-2-8675-4101-8.
  • Inka Schube u. a. (Hgg.): UMBO. Fotograf, Köln: Snoeck Verlagsgesellschaft [2019], ISBN 9783864422805.
  • Hans-Jürgen Tast: Umbo: Ich habe es gesehen. Ich habe es erlebt. Ich habe es festgehalten., Schellerten 2019, Kulleraugen, ISBN 9783888420535


  1. ^ Otto Umbehr in the RKD
  2. ^ a b Robert Capa: A Biography, by Richard Whelan on Google books

External links