Remembering Dohnány

The photographer Miloš Dohnány was born in Lienz, Austrian Tirol, on January 4th 1904 in the family of a building contractor. In 1919 the family moved to Bratislava.

On completing his studies at the specialized College of the Czecho-Slovak Railways in Olomouc in 1923, Dohnány worked with the railway department until his death. As photographer, he first devoted his efforts to topical reporting for several Slovak and Czech illustrated periodicals. Under the editorial code D-amateur, he published articles intended for photo- and radio-amateurs. In the early 30°s he became a member of the Association of Photo-Amateurs YMCA in Bratislava where, as of 1934 at the latest, he organized courses in photography. From 1932 until January 1st 1934, he studied at the Deparmtent of photography at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bratislava, under the direction of Jaromír Funke. During the course of 30 years he published photographs and articles in the periodicals Vesna, Fotographický obzor (Photographic Horizon), Pestrý týden (Colourful Week), Lidové noviny (People°s Journal), Nový svet (New World), Slovenský denník (Slovak Daily), Slovák, Robotnícke noviný (Workmen°s Paper), Zelezničný časopis (Railway Magazine)...In 1938, he put up, together with Viliam Malík, a large exibition "Slovakia in Photography" at the Agricultural (the present Slovak National) Museum. On October 4th 1944 he became a victin of a car accident.

Photographer Miloš Dohnány left behind a large quantity of good-quality photographs and for those times in Slovakia, unique publicist writings, primarily on photography. However, a short time after his death, the social conditions were repeatedly shaken down to their foundations and Dohnány°s name was practically erased from the history of Slovak photography. It was only in the 60s that a small number of his photographs from the interwar period appeared at a series of exhibitions installed by the Czech historian and collector of photographs,from his abundant collections, Rudolf Skopec1. However, a larger number of Dohnány's photographs were on view only at the very first exhibition of his works at the University Library in Bratislava on the occasion of the Month of Photography in 1995, in which his younger collaborator and friend Viliam Malík - still among us - also participated. (Before World War II, both were members of the then most famous photoclub in Slovakia - The YMCA Club of Photoamateurs in Bratislava and for a time the animators of the entire photoamateur movement in Slovakia). Since then, Dohnány°s works regularly appeared in foremost editorial and exhibition projects relating to art of the 30s and 40s of the last century in Slovakia.

However, all that would not have been possible if, despite unfavourable circumstances, a substantial part of Dohnány°s photographic hereditament had not been preserved - even though this comprised but very few enlargements of important works in exhibition formats and a very limited number of such as were reliably dated and signed. Beginning with the first article of the Slovak historian of photography Ĺudovít Hlaváč of the year 19652, Dohnány°s work is often mentioned in relation to the activity of Jaromír Funke at the School of Artistic Crafts in Bratislava (known by its Slovak initials ŠUR). This well-known Czech avant-garde photographer was in charge of the photographic department in 1931-1935 - the only one of its kind in Slovakia at which, according to as yet available sources, Miloš Dohnány also studied.3 Dohnány was not simply one of Funke°s students and an adherent of his photographic views in Slovakia but, with some exaggeration, also his Slovak counterpart.


The years following Dohnány°s first known published photograph (1924) are the least known period of his production. Some of the few verified works permit us to assume that, similarly as another outstanding Slovak photographer Irena Blühová, he gave proof of his talent prior to his training under Funke, and just as in the case of Blühová who spent one year of study directly at Bauhaus, his stay at ŠUR meant an endorsement of an existing orientation, eventually an opportunity to test some purely medium experiments and this in a form to which he would never revert.
In Slovak and later also in Czech periodicals of the 20s and 30s we come across Dohnány°s articles on diverse topics - his first writings are devoted to radioamateurs, even "electro-D-I-Y-men" rather than to amateur photographers, but also to tourism, advertising "the natural beauties of Slovakia" even before this came to be a social norm. He was an enthusiast for new technologies, especially those in the communication and medium sector, hence, also in photography.
He was the first in Slovakia ever to photograph possible transport mechanism - of course, trains, but also automobiles, motorcycles, river boats, travelling cranes, airplanes and even an airship - Zeppelin flying over Bratislava. The bustle in the Bratislava riverine port with its huge mobile cranes, cargo boats and the bridge in the background were, right from the beginning, his favourite topics which we shall also encounter among his last photographs. In the picture Feast in the Bratislava Harbour4, he makes greater use of the cut-out technique which leaves only the heavy cubic matter of the lower section of the crane contrasting with the empty expanse of the sky. The central part of the picture is filled in with a combination of arched and right-angled shapes of a steamship at anchor and the bridge. Standing on the rough surface of the embankment, right below the heavy structure of the crane is a rickety wooden cart which paradoxically completes the composition. This naturally reveals a saturation of photographic information - the very arrangement of the photographed items provides a certain type of information without the author°s intending to express some standpoint. The heterogeneity of the objects portrayed is counterbalanced by perfect composition and regular lighting and thus the picture expresses a deep, truly festive calm. Dohnány will also later attempt to demonstrate in his photographs the demanding "unity in diversity", and through heterogeneity to arrive at wholeness .
Dohnány began regularly to publish his photographs only as of the year 1930 when he started to work for the ambitious journal Vesna which by its orientation was rather a popular magazine, though partially fulfilling the role of a literary- artistic revue. In 1930, Dohnány°s photographs were not as yet considered to be artistic. But soon, a change came about for which he himself was instrumental. As a matter of fact, beginning with the 5th issue of Vesna in 1935, Dohnany was entrusted with evidently the first counselling column for photographers in Slovakia, a task he carried out until early 1933. In it he published not only his own photographs, but likewise those of other photoamateurs, wrote a series of articles dealing with the various stages of the photographic process - from searching out motifs up to the laboratory finish of the resulting picture. He introduced a regular evaluative column entitled What mars my picture? in which he analysed works sent in by photoamateurs. Right at the start of the column he published a brief, though in a certain sense a programmed reflection on modern photography. It is clearly the first one of its kind in Slovakia. In it he insists that while "formerly, photography served solely to capture pictures, today it is becoming in a great measure an art. "Works of art can be created without a brush uniquely thanks to artistic ambitions, but also claims". The aim of the "photo-nook in Vesna is to meet the demands of modern photographic endeavours" and "to create an artistic photography in Slovakia".5 Thus, Dohnány quite unambiguously connects the photographic medium with art, something that is not so self-evident when we realise that Dohnány°s teacher at ŠUR Jaromír Funke, and also e.g. the influence of the theorist of the Czech avant-garde Karel Teige, emphasized - even though each for different reasons - that photography is not an art, nor can it essentially become one.6

Dohnány seemed rather as if starting from László Moholy-Nagy°s high appreciation of photography, who explicitly apprehended photography as "a portraying art that is no mere copying of nature"7. Dohnány had an opportunity to become acquainted with Moholy-Nagy°s views either directly or through some intermediary, although we find direct contact between them only in 1935 when Dohány reviewed Moholy-Nagy's exhibition at ŠUR in Bratislava in 1935. As one to whom German was a second language, he was able directly to follow the remarkable events taking place in modern art and in photography in Germany, but according to some documents he also followed contemporary literature within a broader cultural circuit.8
Dohnány published in Vesna between 1930 and 1932 -initially mainly illustrated actualities and photographic events from Bratislava°s streets. Very soon, however, in these takes he switched emphasis from the whole to details.
He became aware that, in the words of Franz Roh, an influential theorist of photography of that time, "the act of choice", "the choice of objectivity" from reality in front of the camera, already constitutes "a creative act", providing various forms of "a remelting and reduction of the external world", "scores of possible modes of lighting, cut-outs, angles of view".9 "A feature inherent to photography is to cut out from the outside" wrote his future teacher back in 1924.10 Dohnány likewise understood "photography°s exact language" which, according to László Moholy-Nagy, has to be extracted from the photographic material".11 He "could relish the sudden alterations of planes" deriving from takes from under and above, including shots from slanting verticals - in fact, "radials" according to Franz Roh, coming out directly from an imaginary centre of the Earth.12 However. In Dohnany°s opinion, standard photographic motifs of the new objectivity occasionally acquire an even surprisingly poetic dimension. The picture View from My Window (Vesna No.12, 1931) is set on a light and spatial contrast. Similarly as the harbour, so also the window in Dohnány°s house and the view from it became his favourite topic. The white web of branches covered with hoarfrost or snow contrasts with the dark space of the background with the street bustle. This gives rise to a colourful effect - closer to the outgoing, departing pictorialism rather than the stern new objectivity.

Composition and Still Lifes

During the first months of 1933, Dohnány°s first arranged photographs, composed into still lifes (though not in the traditional sense of the term) and in material- objective studies, began to make their appearance. Some of these studies originated under Funke°s supervision at ŠUR.
Although Dohnány by his Compositions very soon surpassed the subjects of the school exercises, Funke°s views remained to him a methodological framework which he essentially always adhered to. Medium experiments disregarding "the intactness of the positive and negative"13 required by Funke, were strange to him. Precisely while attending the evening courses at ŠUR, Dohnány published in Lidové noviny one of his numerous theoretical reflections under the characteristic heading Composition in Modern Photography. Some of the ideas are clearly inspired by Funke°s views: "Modern photography of our times is uncommonly modest in the choice of objects of its preferences, for it is enough to portray a few glass panes, a handful of wood shavings, a machine part for it to produce precisely through this simplicity a surprising effect. At the same time, it takes note of the run of lines, the harmonic division of surfaces..." The author of the article also notes how "in the special objects of serial production" one may discover "aesthetic values", how, through recognition of a "photogenic item" one may arrive at "the picture of artistic value".14 Today we may just make a guess as to which from the quantity of Dohnány°s Compositions and Still Lifes are directly connected with the teaching at ŠUR, for he went on producing them also in later years. These studies were designed to prepare students for advertising photography, hence, the frequent appearance of standardized objects, as e.g. a milk bottle in photography, originally termed Light and Shadow. The caption indicates that the photographer was taken up more by the "photogenic" topic rather than by its possible utility. He evidently intentionally left minor impurities on the glass surface - whereby the nature of the material - glassiness - comes out even more conspicuously. Corrugated, as if fluted cardboard winds round it in space, thereby endorsing its transparent material, but at the back leaves the wall bare, with a parabolic curve of a deeply "grooved" shadow through the reflection of the corrugated cardboard. The latter, since the times of cubist collages and Schwitters°s relief - merzes assemblages, used to be a favourite compositional element with modern artists; occasionally it also occurred in students° photographic exercises at ŠUR. Recourse to, at first glance, such a simple object goes to show the scale of photographic finess Dohnány already had at his command. Funke might have said: " Relevant simplicity is here raised to the nth power of refined richness. Apparently, new form syntheses are being extracted from primitive shapes."15
However, Dohnány's ambitions as regards compositions are far from being thereby fulfilled. A further type of objective sets are so-called "spilt" still lifes. They too come from recently discovered procedures in advertising photography (their prototype may be Steichen°s Camel cigarettes from the year 1927). Structures, scattered or spilt from above, formed the content of material experiments at Bauhaus, but from the early 30s, they also appeared within the context of Czech and Slovak photography.16 In Composition with an identical subheading Trades, the key role is played by bright lighting.
The basic area is pressed paper of a rough texture and a conspicuous diagonal bearing the inscription Trades. Scattered on the paper lay shining transparent crystals partly hiding, partly uncovering the black of the textual underlay. The textual information as a sort of orderliness is covered over with a disordered but "photogenic" chaos. The Card Composition is some kind of heaping-up (the Moholy-Nagyan Häufung - piling up) - pre-printed cards are arranged in strata in the manner of playing cards into an abstract composition of relief-like flattened paraboloid formations, as if suggesting a whirling motion, e.g of the iris diaphragm of a camera.
Motifs of partial or scrappy information also appear in further of Dohnány's still lifes which depart more and more from school compositional studies in an indeterminate, undefined space. On the one hand, the arrangment of the relevant compositions becomes more and more complex, on the other, the still lifes acquire traits as if of relevant situations captured in everyday life. Such also is the half-detailed, slanting view of the Still Life with scattered cigarettes, perhaps the peak of Dohnány°s "compositional" style. The relatively restricted surface of the picture is overfilled with objects of complexly tangled, motley ornamental patterns. They are objects of a civilian, private sphere rather than photo-studio requisites. Pictures such as
Composition with a Rattle reveal civilism, a certain intimate tuning more characteristic of the thirties. His harbinger may be André Kertész°s simple and intimate photographs from the end of the 20s, especially his series of still lifes from the study of the Hungarian poet Endre Andy. The effect of the doubled motif of the hand in Tourist Still Life is somewhat characteristic. Doubled because, alongside the hand pointing to a definite spot on a tourist map lies a pair of gloves, so crumpled that the index of one of them aims at the same spot. In between, as if soaring, is a pair of dark contrast glasses, somewhat reminiscent of André Kertész's well-known compositions with glasses. Tourist Still Life, as also those with negatives are Dohnány°s only photographs tuned imaginatively. Yet, there is no question here of a "confrontation of two worlds" or " a purposeful contrasting of two realities"17 as in the case of Funke's emotional photography, but rather of a distant echo or surrealist concrete irrationality.

Town and Countryside
Dohnány was the prototype of an enlightened searcher. As soon he ceased attending photographic courses at ŠUR, he organized his own for his colleagues-photographers at the photo-club at the YMCA and with brief intervals, carried on in this work until his untimely death. Following the demise of Vesna, he still repeatedly succeeded to introduce his counselling photographic columns in various periodicals. Seeing the dearth of professional literature, his reviews of photographic exhibitions are even surprisingly numerous and thus he may be considered to be the first real critic of photography in Slovakia. In comparison with his reserved attitude towards the photographic section of László Moholy-Nagy°s exhibition, he welcomed all the more cordially Jaromír Funke°s at ŠUR in January of 1936. He even devoted two reviews to it. In these he also appreciated those photographic types which he himself evaded in his own work: photograms and pictures of the "semi-real world" (evidently Funke°s "emotional photographs"). According to him, Funke is a "tireless worker" in the photographic domain, never shunning even the most difficult photographic problems which also include precisely abstract and modern photography in general."18 And precisely Funke°s "abstract photography outstrips by far the teacher in this domain, the well-known Moholy-Nagy, by his wholeness, aesthetic consonance and well-thought out composition".19 "Consonance" and "wholeness" of composition, "harmony", "balance" are Donány°s favourite aesthetic categories. Of utmost importance to him is for "everything to harmonize in a beautiful whole", that means that "every line in the picture stands on a well-thought out spot and its least shift would disrupt the equilibrium of the picture."20 These characteristics perhaps speak more of himself and his own aesthetic programme than of Funke°s.

In 1937, then in charge of the advertising department at the Headquarters of the State Railways, he began to document events about the railways not only through photographs, but also through amateur feature films. Mobile, transport parts of modern world still remain among his favourite topics. Just as many others, he takes pictures of the massive shapes of automobiles of the times, their highly-reflecting polish, however, he as a rule adds some contrasting motif. His concept of "complex unity" also finds satisfaction in the Bratislava architecture at the interface of historicism and modern times - as attested to by his pictures of the headquarters of the YMCA organization and also of the old gas-works. For instance, he takes pictures from below of the corner of the new hotel Palace in such a way as to get into the picture a rust-eaten notice board jutting out from the corner of an older house opposite - but its ornamental forged fittings and its connecting globular shape admirably correspond to the rounded corner of he building and the construction of the neon inscription above it. A similar connection of the old and the new may also be seen in pictures of present-day Main Square. The strikingly framed right-angled glass areas of the huge shop windows in the new department store shakily reflect the opposite historical buildings - the town hall tower and the gable of the Jesuit church. In the spirit of the new objectivity, Dohnány did not look out solely for ostentatious architecture, whether old or new. The picture of piled up barrels (again the Moholy-Nagy Häufing) - unfortunately from a damaged negative - is one of the best of this type. Its content is far remote from any decorativism whatever.
Noteworthy are also some of Dohnány°s interior takes.
The practically empty interior of the waiting-room at a railway station is taken from above so that the angle made by the floor and the inner wall of the station building forms a diagonal ending in the transversally located cylindrical tobacconist's booth. Opposite stands the figure of a passenger surrounded with his luggage. The take from above creates a minor diagonal, crossing the first one. The figure wears a hat and remains anonymous just like the figures René Descartes observed from his window and on whom he demonstrated the impenetrableness by the external world. The passenger in the dusk of the waiting-room, as if loath to move towards the departure platform where a uniformed railway man stands, eyeing him with curiosity - some sort of a Kafkan guard. A totally unique picture in Slovak photography of the times is that of some underground space - perhaps a musicians° store-room. On a moderately deflected vertical axis of the photograph, not quite common items (stands for scores, a tuning-fork, some sort of a folding screen and the edge of a piano) create a fantastic arrangement, still reinforced by irregular flakes on a brick wall. This is perhaps the most forceful, assertive photograph in Slovak modern style, even though likewise preserved only in the negative of size 6 by 6 cm.
Appearing frequently in Dohnány°s photographs of architectonic exteriors and interiors are large-size glass panes divided by metal rods into a regular raster. This motif was known in modern photography and currently utilized - as a matter of fact, it also figured on the facade of Bauhaus.
In our architecture, the arrival/departure quay of the Bratislava "Propeller" represented some sort of a miniature Bauhaus. In one of the photographs, likewise a bit damaged negative, the glass area of the"Propeller" quay reflects events on the opposite square. The figure of a boy in a winter overcoat, with his hands in the pockets, standing aloof and uncorcerned at the edge of this reflecting area in the manner of old engravings, seems to introduce the viewer into the inner picture and thus create a link between the real and the reflected world, both mediated through photography. A raster of framed glass panes forms a background to the portrait of an elegant young lady in a coat with a fur collar. Although the situation would lend itself better to a snapshot, the stopped instant is prolonged into a momentary immobility - instead of an instant standing still, we have here time at a standstill. It might be said to be the outcome of a prearranged situation, of an invitation of the object before the camera. As a matter of fact, Dohnány carefully arranged even takes from current life - there is always some visual point on view, it may be the portrait of a certain person. The latter is not set off from her usual milieu and is often taken up with an activity that is proper to her. And this activity is sometimes just intimated through the inclusion of the relevant requisite which thus becomes some sort of a symbolic attribute.
The first from a series of portraits published in the 6th issue of Vesna in 1933 was A Lady at the Window (with the typical subtitle Composition). The published picture has been preserved only in the negative - in the author°s positive there now only exists its cut-out, termed Vierka - according to Dohnány°s portrayed sister. A girl, half turned, with a high turned-up collar on a short coat partly covering evidently an evening dress, fixedly stares inside the ticket office and, as if in a momentary forgetfulness, grips the window frame. We recall Funke°s series of female portraits from the year 1924, or his masculine Portrait from 1929 likewise with the striking motif of upturned collars. However, they are genre-distinctive portraits - faces and collars with dramatic shades are practically the unique topic of these photographs. Mystifying "studio" gloom, concentrated floodlights and a "fateful" dimming in the eyes impart to them a romanticizing tinge. Dohnány in contrast, not only photographs most often figures in a smooth continuous nondramatic lighting, but also makes us of the so-called American shot which takes in not only the major part of the person, but also the surrounding space. That is why his portraits, despite all the compositional devising, make a civil impression.
Dohnány tried photographic distortion that had been applied to portraiture at Bauhaus some years before, in
The Girl at the Telephone (1931-1931). Not only distortion was applied for the first time in Slovak photography, but probably also the topic as such - a person at a modern telephone instrument. In one case, a minor series of portraits was created by Zdenka Bokeszová-Hanáková, a professor of music at a girls' Grammar school in Bratislava. Portraying is here again combined with an "attribute" - a piano. The photogenic keyboard as such was a favourite motif in modern photography. However, as part of a detailed portrait take, it acquires quite a different resonance - by its intimacy it recalls Moholy-Nagy's magnificent female portraits, particularly those of his wife Lucie.
Among Dohnány's portraits we also find such as do not belong to the modern world with its achievements but rather to a world that did not enjoy these achievements. The majority of his socially-tuned photographs originated after the wave of socio-critical photography of the 30s had subsided. They have no tendentious design, they are rather a spontaneous recording of contradictions proper to the society of that time as also to every other. Although Dohnány created several remarkable portrait studies of people of different age and social status, he found his best models among children. To take pictures of little children and avoid being ingratiating or sentimental is something not every one can cope with. Consequently, even the stern modern photography for the most part gave a wide berth to this topic. However, Dohnány, perhaps precisely as a fundamental amateur was not burdened with prejudices of this type. Naturally, his most frequent models were his own children, as they came into the world. No. 3 of Vesna 1933 carried an article How to Photograph Children accompanied with his photographs. At the time, a photograph used to appear fairly frequently, sometimes called Hortensia at other times White Rose. A steep take from above connects the figure of a little girl who, amazed, looks into the camera and bashful, puts her finger in her mouth, with an abundantly blooming white hortensia in a flower-pot by the window and ranges the whole in a richly developed diagonally patterned formation.
Despite the strikingly modernist diagonal and the artificially created neologism, the picture does not appear affected, quite the contrary, it still impresses even today by its immediacy.


Towards the end of the 30s, the photoamateur movement in Slovakia, just as the entire society, found itself at a crossroads. Until then, Slovak photoamateurs had set up organizationally self-standing associations or clubs. Now, they lost this independence - today it would be termed legal subjectivity. In addition, in the corporation division of the society in the Slovak State, they were assigned to an organization whose activities were related but outwardly with their interests and it was also centrally directed by the State Propaganda Office. It was not by chance that the 1st All-nation photographic contest in 1941 asked especially for "beauties of Slovakia: hills, rivers, valleys and cheerful pictures; further, folklore, folkloric types, our people at work, folk art, buildings, castles, ruins....".
Dohnány's views of these processes have not been recorded and hence, are not sufficiently known. A brief note in the press indirectly intimates that at least at the beginning he found it hard to get even with those processes. But in 1941 he became the first deputy of the director of the entire organization and retained this post until his sudden death.
Ultimately, to Dohnány the idea of a photographic propagation of Slovakia was not a strange one. Photographs recording the "beauties of Slovakia" were made throughout the whole period of the 30s and when, during the Slovak State, demand for them increased, the author did not hesitate and published them again. His Mona Lisa of Pohronie (1942) is the portrait of a costumed country girl in a train. The figure of the young woman with a striking face, complexly shrouded in a scarf, with a basket in her lap, by her three-quarter profile lit from the side with light streaming in through the window of the rail car, impresses as if archaically programmed. It distantly reminds of Flemish or Italian renaissance painters. Evidently that impression also suggested the title, likewise referring to "Beauties of Slovakia".
But alongside this type of photographs, destined rather to the public, Dohnány also made photographs even towards the end of his life, that could be dated dozens of years earlier, or such as had no precedents - e.g. the one showing a couple kissing in the dusk which is the very first of its kind in an otherwise prudish Slovak photography. Taking contact with the preceding series of Compositions are two studies of lace-making. It seems as if Dohnány in the last years of his life had been attracted by white or bleached surfaces and their photographic transcriptions. He made several pictures in the snow, but also a photographic study of wood rafting on the Hornad river. The author photographed the rippled, almost white water surface so that the line of break creates a diagonal across the whole picture, with the more illuminated stream of falling water joining it. The result is a practically minimalist composition. Coming close to it by its perception is also one of Dohnány's last pictures from the window of his home - Winter Composition representing his characteristic combination of genre intimity with a depersonalized, even abstract view.
Even at the moment of his death Miloš Dohnány was as if a photographer of several opinions, several possibilities and today we can but speculate as to the direction he would have taken following the revolutionary changes of 1945 and 1948. This multi-track in his work, his unwillingness to adopt a certain clear-cut view, his lack of interest in being "photographically curious", having a "personal photographic programme"21principles on which his teacher Jaromír Funke insisted, all that goes to show that he was an amateur in the pristine meaning of the term. He liked various forms of photography, was not too choosy as regards subjects of photography, nor did eschew demands or tasks too extraneous such as might have been strange to him. He had regard not only for his own interests, but for those of the whole photoamateur community. He felt he was a part of the corporation, movement and all his efforts were directed to its overall uplifting.
Dohnány°s work represents the most significant contribution to modern Slovak photography and this despite the fact that it was created without any support from the home environment. And after all, the most forceful modern photographs of Ladislav Foltyn and Irena Blühová originated outside the Slovak cultural context, for the most part during their stay of study at Bauhaus and were unknown in Slovakia. Even though Irena Blühová applied the "new seeing" in the photographic horizon that was closest to her, i.e. in socio-critical photography, we find modern photography as a specific artistic genre, as an aesthetic end in itself mostly in the work of Miloš Dohnány. However, as he was not a photographer of a personal "vision" in Funke°s sense of the term, he was not an original modernist either. He certainly admired Funke, however, the latter°s insistence on "sensationalism" consisting of unceasing "novelties", "nonrepetitions" and "progress"22, some sort of a modernist perpetuum mobile, evidently did not affect him. Besides, he already belonged to the second wave of the modern photographic style. Its representatives with the modern achievements at their disposal, made use of them as of an already existing communication system, language from whose elements they devised new combinations.
On the other hand, Dohnány was a photographer who did not repeat himself, nor was he used to exchanging invented solutions in numerous variations. What interested him most derives from texts about other authors. Funke°s authorial development evidently went on through his balancing his own contradictions. Dohnány lacked this driving principle. And it is difficult to speak of his authorial growth, therefore difficulties arise in connection with attempts at a temporal assignment of his works. Nevertheless, he had something that László Moholy-Nagy himself appreciated - "a peculiar compositional talent" thanks to which he could breathe new life into traditional photographic genres and succeed in turning them into media of the new art.
Aurel Hrabušický