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Western art


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Portrait of Grit Kallin, Bauhaus Dessau



Irene Bayer

United States of America

28 Oct 1898 - 12 Jul 1991


Irene Bayer was born in Chicago in 1898. As a child she was taken to Europe where she stayed, finishing her high school studies in Hungary. Later, she moved to Berlin where she studied commercial art. After seeing the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimer in 1923, Bayer decided to focus her attention on the fine arts, moving to Paris where she meet Picasso and attended lectures at the Sorbonne and Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1925 she married Herbert Bayer in Weimar and decided to learn photography at the Leipzig Academy so she could assist her husband with his commercial art designs. Bayer returned to the United States with her husband in 1938. However, after divorcing in 1944 she went back to Europe in 1945 to work as chief of the American Photo Section in Munich. In 1947 Bayer returned to the United States where she was to live until her death in 1991.

This portrait is of one of Irene Bayer's fellow students at the Bauhaus, Grit Kallin whose photography is also in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The portrait is typical of the experimentation in Bauhaus photography: students photographed each other in order to hone their skills in various forms of representation including portraiture and advertising. The play with mirrors and jewels shows the influence of surrealism while the diagonal pose of the subject incorporates Constructivist principles.




Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


17.9 x 12.7 cm sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by Jill Hawker 2001

Accession number


Artist information

Irene Bayer

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

  • Modern Times, Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, 01 Aug 2008–08 Feb 2009

  • Shadow Catchers, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2020–2021