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Object Timeline

1939

  • Work on this object began.

2016

2019

2021

  • You found it!

Print, The Human Eye—A Living Camera

This is a Print. It was designed by Herbert Bayer and made for (as the client) Life Magazine. It is dated 1939 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is offset lithograph on glossy white paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

It is credited Museum purchase with funding provided by the Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach Directors.

Its dimensions are

35.7 × 26.5 cm (14 1/16 × 10 7/16 in.)

It is signed

Printed in light red ink, upper right corner: herbert bayer 39

It is inscribed

Printed in black ink, upper left: With its covering layers, its muscles and blood ves- / sels, the eye is infinitely more delicately made / than the finest camera. But its principle is the same. / The crystalline lens throws an inverted image on / the retina in exactly the same way that the camera / lens forms an image on a film. Unlike the camera, / however, the eye is focused by muscles which change / the focal length of the lens, making it thicker for / close objects, thinner for far ones. To compensate / for changes in light intensity, the eye’s pupil is / “stopped down” or opened up like a lens diaphragm. Lower left: IN THE BRAIN THE INVERTED IMAGES, FORMED ON RETINAS OF TWO EYES, ARE / BROUGHT TOGETHER TO FORM AN UPRIGHT STEREOSCOPIC VISUAL OBJECT Lower right: TO SCAN SUBJECTS, THE EYES ARE EQUIPPED WITH SIX PAIRS OF MUSCLES / WHICH PERMIT THE EYES TO BE TURNED IN ANY DIRECTION OR CONVERGED

Cite this object as

Print, The Human Eye—A Living Camera; Designed by Herbert Bayer (American, b. Austria, active Germany and USA, 1900–1985); offset lithograph on glossy white paper; 35.7 × 26.5 cm (14 1/16 × 10 7/16 in.); Museum purchase with funding provided by the Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach Directors; 2016-54-59

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus Master.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/907218883/ |title=Print, The Human Eye—A Living Camera |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 October 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>