One of the Bauhaus school’s best-known alumnae, Grete Stern, had cofounded the Berlin studio foto ringl + pit, and begun producing imaginative commercial photomontages. After moving to Buenos Aires with her Argentinian husband, Horacio Coppola, in 1935, Stern continued her successful vocation. Finding that the innovative visual effects that ran through many of her advertising photographs meshed well with the growing bourgeois popularity of psychoanalysis, Stern undertook an extraordinary project for the women’s magazine Idilio. From 1948 to 1951, she created photomontages based on reports of dreams submitted by the magazine’s readers. Accompanying the weekly column “El psicoanálisis le ayuderá” (“Psychoanalysis Will Help You”), Stern’s images distilled middle-class anxieties into striking representations, often lampooning the links between sexual desire and commodity culture that were at the core of much advertising photography. In one installment, Sea in a Bottle (No. 5), a woman wishes to shrink her size, and be placed in a glass bottle, wanting to travel the seas, possibly reflecting a young woman’s desire to get away from her everyday reality.

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Grete Stern, Argentinean, born Germany, 1904–1999
Botella del mar (Sueño Nº 5)
1949, printed 1993
Gelatin silver print, photomontage
Image: 9 3/8 × 11 5/8 in. (23.9 × 29.5 cm) Sheet: 9 3/8 × 11 5/8 in. (23.9 × 29.5 cm)
Credit Line

Gift of Joan Morganstern

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Joan Morgenstern, Houston; given to MFAH, 1994.