Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz


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Mere end nogen anden amerikaner tvang Alfred Stieglitz anerkendelsen af ​​fotografi som en kunst. Den første kunstfotograf i USA, han er blevet kaldt "skytshelgen for lige fotografering."Alfred Stieglitz blev født som den ældste af seks børn i Hoboken, New Jersey, i 1864. Han blev opdrættet i en brownstone på Manhattans Upper East Side. Han tog fotografier af bønder, der arbejdede på den hollandske kyst og naturen i Tysklands Schwarzwald. Han vakte opmærksomhed i 1880'erne og vandt mange priser for fotografier, han havde taget i hele Europa. Efter sin tilbagevenden til New York i 1893 giftede Stieglitz sig med Emmeline Obermeyer. Stieglitz behøvede ikke at leve for at leve, fordi han og Emmeline modtog godtgørelser fra sin far og hendes. en seriøs kunstblade kendt som "Camera Notes." I 1902 organiserede han en gruppe, der kun var på invitation, og han kaldte "Photo-Session", for at tvinge kunstverdenen til at genkende fotografering. De andre medlemmer af gruppen omfattede Edward Steichen, Gertrude Kasebier, Clarence White og Alvin Langdon Coburn. Photo-Session holdt sine egne udstillinger og udgav Kamera arbejde, en fremtrædende kvartalsvis fotografisk journal, indtil 1917. Fra 1905 til 1917 administrerede Stieglitz, uden kompensation, Photo-Sessions udstillingsrum på 291 Fifth Avenue, som var kendt som 291. I 1910 blev Stieglitz inviteret til at organisere et show på Buffalo Albright Art Gallery, der satte fremmødsrekorder. Stieglitz skiltes fra sin kone i 1918, kort efter at hun smed ham ud af deres hus efter at have fundet ham fotografere Georgia O'Keeffe. Han giftede sig med O'Keeffe i 1924, og de havde begge succes, han i fotografering, hun som maler. O'Keeffe måtte passe Stieglitz på grund af en kronisk hjertesygdom og hypokondri. I 1930'erne tog Stieglitz en række fotografier, nogle nøgen, af arving Dorothy Norman. Disse fotos og O'Keeffes billeder anerkendes ofte som de første til at genkende det kunstneriske potentiale i isolerede dele af menneskekroppen. Han døde i 1946 ved 82, stadig en fast tilhænger af O'Keeffe, og hun af ham.


Alfred Stieglitz

Sarah Greenough, & ldquoAlfred Stieglitz, & rdquo NGA Online Editions, https://purl.org/nga/collection/constituent/5477 (adgang 28. juni 2021).

Relateret indhold
Biografi

Få individer har haft en så stærk indflydelse på amerikansk kunst og kultur fra det 20. århundrede som fotografen og kunsthandleren Alfred Stieglitz. Født i Hoboken, New Jersey, i 1864 under borgerkrigen, levede Stieglitz indtil 1946. Han begyndte at fotografere, mens han var studerende i Berlin i 1880'erne og studerede hos den berømte fotokemiker Hermann Wilhelm Vogel. Da han vendte tilbage til USA i 1890, begyndte han at gå ind for, at fotografering skulle behandles som en kunst. Han skrev mange artikler, der argumenterede for hans sag, redigerede tidsskrifterne Kameranotater (1897–1902) og Kamera arbejde (1903–1917), og i 1902 dannede Photo-Session, en organisation af fotografer, der var forpligtet til at etablere den kunstneriske fortjeneste ved fotografering.

Stieglitz fotograferede New York i mere end 25 år og skildrede dets gader, parker og nyopståede skyskrabere sine hestevogne, vogne, tog og færgefartøjer samt nogle af dets folk. I slutningen af ​​1910'erne og begyndelsen af ​​1920'erne fokuserede han også sit kamera på landskabet omkring sit sommerhus i Lake George, New York. I 1918 blev Stieglitz forbrugt med at fotografere sin kommende kone, kunstneren Georgia O’Keeffe. I mange år havde han ønsket at lave et udvidet fotografisk portræt - han kaldte det et sammensat portræt - hvor han ville studere en person over en lang periode. I løbet af de næste 19 år lavede han mere end 330 færdige portrætter af hende. Fra 1922 og fortsatte gennem 1920'erne blev han også optaget af et andet emne, skyer, og lavede mere end 300 færdige undersøgelser af dem.

Stieglitz var vidne til nogle af de mest dybtgående ændringer, dette land nogensinde har oplevet: to verdenskrige, den store depression og Amerikas vækst fra en landdistrikteret landbrugsnation til en industrialiseret og kulturel stormagt. Men mere betydningsfuldt hjalp han også med at gennemføre nogle af disse transformationer. Gennem sine gallerier i New York-de små gallerier i fotosessionen på 291 Fifth Avenue, som han instruerede fra 1905 til 1917 The Intimate Gallery, 1925–1929 og An American Place, 1929–1946-introducerede han moderne europæisk kunst til dette land , der organiserer de første udstillinger i Amerika af værker af blandt andre Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque og Paul Cézanne. Derudover var han en af ​​de første til at forkæmpe og støtte amerikanske modernistiske kunstnere som Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Marsden Hartley og Charles Demuth.

Fotografering var altid af central betydning for Stieglitz: ikke alene var det mediet, han brugte til at udtrykke sig, men mere grundlæggende var det den berøringssten, han brugte til at evaluere al kunst. Ligesom det er tydeligt i dag, at computere og digital teknologi ikke kun vil dominere vores liv, men også vores tankegang i dette århundrede, så indså Stieglitz også længe før mange af hans samtidige, at fotografering ville være en stor kulturel kraft i det 20. århundrede . Fascineret over det, han kaldte "ideen om fotografering", forudsagde Stieglitz, at det ville revolutionere alle aspekter af den måde, vi lærer og kommunikerer på, og at det ville ændre dybt på alle kunstarter.

Stieglitzs egne fotografier var centrale for hans forståelse af mediet: de var de instrumenter, han brugte til at plumb både dets ekspressive potentiale og dets forhold til de andre kunstarter. Da han begyndte at fotografere i begyndelsen af ​​1880'erne, var mediet knap 40 år gammelt. Kompliceret og besværligt og primært ansat af fagfolk, blev fotografering af de fleste set som et objektivt værktøj og anvendt til dets beskrivende og optagende evner. På det tidspunkt, hvor dårligt helbred tvang Stieglitz til at stoppe med at fotografere i 1937, havde fotografering og offentlighedens opfattelse af det ændret sig dramatisk, takket være hans indsats. Gennem de publikationer, han redigerede, herunder Kameranotater, Kamera arbejde, og 291 gennem de udstillinger, han organiserede og gennem sine egne klare og indsigtsfulde fotografier, havde Stieglitz endegyldigt demonstreret mediet udtryksfulde kraft.


Alfred Stieglitz - Historie

Alfred Stieglitz -samlingen og Art Institute of Chicago

Den 9. december 1949 skrev Art Institute of Chicagos direktør, Daniel Catton Rich, til sin ven Georgia O'Keeffe, den velkendte maler og enke efter Alfred Stieglitz: ”Jeg er glad for at kunne informere dig om, at Trustees of the Art Institute på deres seneste møde i november, accepterede med stor påskønnelse din pragtfulde gave af malerier, skulpturer, tegninger, raderinger, tryk og fotografier til Alfred Stieglitz Collection. ”[1] Inklusive senere tilføjelser af O'Keeffe, ville gaven i sidste ende i alt næsten fire hundrede værker, herunder 244 fotografier, 159 af Stieglitz selv. Det tilføjede enormt til museets besiddelser af moderne amerikansk kunst og fuldstændig omdannet samling af fotografier.

Betragtet som en helhed afspejler Stieglitz -samlingen den enorme mangfoldighed af Alfred Stieglitz ’aktiviteter. Gennem sit eget dedikerede fotografiske arbejde i løbet af et halvt århundrede redigerede og udgav de tidsskrifter, han redigerede og udgav (f.eks Kameranotater og Kamera arbejde) og de banebrydende udstillinger, han organiserede i sine gallerier i New York (herunder 291, Intimate Gallery og An American Place), promoverede Stieglitz utrætteligt fotografering som en kunst, der først samledes omkring ham piktorialistiske og derefter modernistiske fotografer. Han var uovertruffen både i sin forkæmpelse af moderne europæiske malere og billedhuggere - herunder Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso og Auguste Rodin - og i sin støtte til nye samtidige amerikanske kunstnere som Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin og Georgia O'Keeffe. Mangfoldigheden af ​​hans interesser blev vist fuldt ud i hans publikationer og udstillinger, hvor fotografi kunne findes sammen med historiske forstadier og moderne samtidige i andre medier.

Stieglitz enorme samling var allerede begyndt at fragmentere i løbet af hans eget liv. Han donerede syvogtyve af sine egne udskrifter til Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, i 1924, efterfulgt af toogtyve fotografier til Metropolitan Museum of Art i 1928, begge gaver, der repræsenterede de første fotografier, der blev accepteret i begge museers samling. Han var imidlertid ambivalent om, hvad han skulle gøre med sin stadig voksende samling af værker af andre kunstnere-en uordnet samling samlet gennem årtierne, herunder gaver og køb fra kunstnere, han viste på sine gallerier samt værker købt fra andre udstillinger, f.eks. som Armouryshowet fra 1913. Som O'Keeffe udtrykte det: ”Han brokkede sig altid om samlingen, uden at vide, hvad han skulle gøre med den, ikke rigtig ville have den, men på trods af brokkeriet blev den ved med at vokse indtil de sidste par år med hans liv. ”[2] I 1933 havde Stieglitz været på nippet til at ødelægge en del af samlingen, over fire hundrede uvurderlige fotografiske udskrifter af sine kolleger og jævnaldrende, hvis opbevaringsgebyrer i stedet var blevet en økonomisk byrde, han var overbevist af Metropolitan Museum of Art om at deponere dem der. [3] Da han blev ældre, forventede Stieglitz de vanskeligheder, som fremtidige forvaltere af hans samling ville møde. Han fortalte en interviewer i 1937: ”Jeg er næsten fireoghalvfjerds. [Vil] der ske alt dette, hvis jeg skulle dø i aften? Der er ikke en institution i dette land, der er parat til at tage denne samling. . . . Brudt op, disse individuelle varer ville være interessante og værdifulde. Men sammen er de mere end det. Det hele er større end summen af ​​dets dele. ”[4]

Da Stieglitz døde i 1946, gik O'Keeffe straks i gang med et større projekt for at omforme og sprede samlingen, bistået af Doris Bry og i samråd med Daniel Catton Rich og kuratorerne James Johnson Sweeney og Alfred Barr fra Museum of Modern Art, New York. O'Keeffes beslutning om at opdele værkerne blandt offentlige institutioner var en pragmatisk, i betragtning af samlingens størrelse. Det repræsenterede også hendes engagement i overførsel af Stieglitz ideer til det bredest mulige publikum. Som hun skrev, ”Det er umuligt for mig at give Samlingen til en institution og forvente, at hans ideer bliver indkvarteret. Samlingen er blevet for stor. . . . Hvis materialet ikke bliver set, dannes der ikke mening. Da jeg havde i tankerne, at billeder skulle hænges, var jeg nødt til at opdele det, som jeg altid fortalte ham. ”[5]

Opgaven med at parre værker med deres respektive destinationer viste sig at være besværlig, som O'Keeffe beskrev i et brev fra 1948 til Rich:

Det er forvirrende - for mange ting at tage stilling til. - Jeg har arbejdet ganske støt på fotografierne. Jeg havde troet, det ville tage omkring to uger. . . . Jeg har været i gang med det omkring en måned i stedet. . . Jeg havde ikke tænkt mig at have så mange grupper af fotografier, men udskrifterne er der - det er svært at tænke på at sælge dem - jeg kan ikke beholde dem - de virker for gode til at ødelægge - jeg vil blive glad, når det er færdigt. [6 ]

I 1949 donerede O'Keeffe repræsentative grupper af værker til en række institutioner, herunder Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art og flere andre (en komplet liste er nedenfor). Mellem 1950 og 1952 blev yderligere gaver tildelt Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Museum of Modern Art, New York og George Eastman House. I løbet af denne tid blev Art Instituts gruppe forbedret med tilføjelsen af ​​en gruppe autokromer. O'Keeffe valgte Art Institute som et af modtagermuseerne på grund af "dets centrale placering i vores land", men hendes personlige forbindelser til museet spillede også en rolle: hun var tæt sammen med Rich og hans familie, og hun havde studeret på School of the Art Institute of Chicago. [7] Mens Stieglitzs samling som helhed afslører både hans bemærkelsesværdige kunstneriske karriere såvel som hans kræsne øje, afspejler dens fordeling O'Keeffes voldgift, der definerede hvordan og hvor værkerne ville blive set.

Som Stieglitzs valgte medium omfattede fotografering en særlig kategori af samlingen, og gruppen af ​​fotografier, der blev doneret til Art Institute, var kun nummer to i størrelsen efter gruppen "nøglesæt", der blev givet til National Gallery of Art, som bestod af et eksempel på hvert tryk Stieglitz havde monteret og opbevaret i sin besiddelse på tidspunktet for hans død. Af de originale 231 fotografier og fotografi, der blev givet til Kunstinstituttet i 1949, som på det tidspunkt udgjorde hele museets fotosamling, var 151 af Stieglitz selv, der spænder fra hans tidlige studietider i slutningen af ​​1800-tallet til hans mere eksperimentelle periode i Lake George i 1930'erne. I sit brev fra 1948 til Rich beskrev O'Keeffe disse fotografier af Stieglitz som "meget smukke." [8] Yderligere firs udskrifter af andre kunstnere fortæller historien om hans rolle som en kritisk skikkelse i fotografiets historie. Disse omfatter udskrifter af praktikere fra det nittende århundrede, såsom Julia Margaret Cameron og David Octavius ​​Hill og Robert Adamson, som Stieglitz så som forgængere dem af billedkunstnere James Craig Annan, F. Holland Day, Gertrude Käsebier og Heinrich Kühn, såvel som tidligt billeder af Edward Steichen, som alle Stieglitz havde kæmpet for på siderne i sin journal Kamera arbejde og værker af Paul Strand og Ansel Adams, yngre modernistiske fotografer, som Stieglitz havde mentoreret.

Mens O'Keeffe i 1949 ikke kunne have forudset mulighederne ved digitalisering, Art Institute of Chicago's Alfred Stieglitz -samlingen: Fotografier støtter hendes intention om at gøre værkerne tilgængelige for et så bredt publikum som muligt. Webstedet demonstrerer også de unikke kvaliteter af udskrifterne i især kunstinstituttets samling og placerer dem i den større kontekst af Stieglitz indflydelsessfære. Det er forfatternes håb, at platformen introducerer nye veje til forståelse af denne skelsættende gruppe af værker, som blev formet lige så meget af O’Keeffes fremsyn som af Stieglitz sans som samler.

Andrew W. Mellon Chicago Object Study Initiative (COSI) Research Fellow, 2014–15

[1] Daniel Catton Rich til Georgia O’Keeffe, 9. december 1949, Department of Photography Files, Art Institute of Chicago.

[2] Georgia O'Keeffe, "Stieglitz: Hans billeder samlede ham" New York Times Sunday Magazine, 11. december 1949, s. 24.

[3] Dorothy Norman, En amerikansk seer (Aperture, 1973), s. 235–36.

[4] Alfred Stieglitz, interview, New York Herald Tribune, 10. november 1937, citeret i Norman, En amerikansk seer, s. 200.

[5] O'Keeffe, "Stieglitz: Hans billeder samlede ham."

[6] Georgia O’Keeffe til Daniel Catton Rich, 23. februar 1948, Art Institute Records.

[7] O'Keeffe, "Stieglitz: Hans billeder samlede ham."

[8] Georgia O’Keeffe til Daniel Catton Rich, 23. februar 1948, Art Institute Records.

Ud over de fotografier, der fremhæves på dette websted, indeholder Alfred Stieglitz -samlingen ved Art Institute of Chicago også malerier, skulpturer, tegninger og udskrifter. Disse værker kan ses her.

Følgende institutioner huser også dele af Alfred Stieglitz -samlingen:


Alfred Stieglitz - Historie

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Alfred Stieglitz og amerikansk modernisme

Amerikansk modernisme stammer cirka fra første halvdel af det tyvende århundrede. For nemheds skyld og for at notere et nøgletal er det muligt nogenlunde at datere denne periode i forhold til Alfred Stieglitz 'karriere (1864-1946). Fotografen vendte tilbage fra Tyskland i 1890 med viden om avant-gardekunst i Europa og med erfaring inden for "kunstfotografering". I Amerika var fotografering stort set provinsen af ​​fagfolk, der arbejdede kommercielt, men i Europa var der grupper af velstillede "amatører", der havde tid til at eksperimentere og indtægter til at producere kunst. Derudover havde New York City ingen bemærkelsesværdig eller aktuel avantgarde kunstscene, en situation den unge fotograf ville forsøge at rette op på. Stieglitz ville præsidere over modernismen i Amerika indtil sin død i 1946.

Den selvgive mission for Stieglitz, en indfødt i New York City, var at få den amerikanske offentlighed til at acceptere fotografering som en kunst. Han begyndte med at slutte sig til Society of Amateur Photographers i 1891 og blev redaktør for Den amerikanske amatørfotograf. Da han trak sig tilbage fra denne stilling i 1895, fusionerede Stieglitz Society med Camera Club of New York og udgav i 1896-7 Kameranotater at fremsætte sine egne ideer. Han insisterede på ideen om et "billede" i modsætning til et rent fotografi, et begreb, der betegner et kunstnerisk frem for et mekanisk forsøg. I begyndelsen af ​​det tyvende århundrede ville Stieglitz formulere sine begreber om selve fotografiets natur, baseret på en kombination af, hvad et kamera kunne gøre —klarhed —og hvad en kunstner bidrog med#komposition og design.

Fotografier af Amerikas første fotografiske salon, Pennsylvania Academy of Arts og Photographic Society of Pennsylvania, viser en temmelig tilfældig salonstil med hængende kunst. Stieglitz udstillede ti af sine "billeder" i udstillingen, men da han åbnede sit eget galleri, ville installationsstilen være en helt anden. New York -gruppen, han havde sammensat, var lidt for tam til ambitioner, der var næret i Berlin. Da Stieglitz mødte den unge fotograf, Edward Steichen, i Camera Club, gjorde de to et dristigt træk. Han og hans entusiastiske tilhænger startede Photo-Session, en avantgarde bevægelse af New York -fotografer, der ville være både professionelle kunstnere og progressive fotografer. På den ældgamle måde for europæiske bevægelser "løsrev" disse fotografer sig fra den mere konservative klub i 1901. The “Little Galleries ” i Photo-Secession åbnede i Steichen ’s fraflyttede studier på 293 Fifth Avenue og blev snart et fyrtårn for kunsten cognoscenti af New York City.

I 1908 brød galleriet igennem væggen til næste værelse på 291, et nummer, der ville blive et sted for en kreds af amerikanske modernistiske kunstnere. Indtil 1907 var galleriets hovedintention at promovere fotografi som kunst med hensyn til piktorisme. Fotograferne i 291 begyndte som fashionable Pictorialist -fotografer. Denne tilgang til fotografering forsøgte at tilpasse fotografering til “art ” ved at efterligne kunstneriske stilarter og udseende, såsom grafiske effekter og maleriske effekter. Piktorialisme var ofte blød i fokus, og fotograferne byggede på dette bløde fokus ved at trække på billedet under udviklingsprocessen. Resultatet var et fotografi, der lignede en akvarel eller en trækulskitse, ofte af maleriske emner eller iscenesatte sentimentale eller fortællende scener.

Men i 1907 blev Pictorialism udfordret af en ny fotograferingsmetode kaldet Straight Photography, det vil sige fotografering, der var skarp og klar, baseret på kun hvad kameraet kunne, umanipuleret i mørkerummet. I 1907, et år lige så vigtigt for fotografering som Picassos Les Demoiselles d'Avignon var til maleri, Stieglitz flyttede definitivt væk fra Pictorialism med Styringen. Dette skelsættende billede var et uformidlet skud af tredje klasses passagerer på en ocean liner, blottet for fortælling eller stemning. Seeren skal lære at observere, ikke emigranterne, men samspillet mellem diagonaler og vertikaler. Pludselig sluttede "straight photography" Pictorialismens regeringstid.

Avancerede fotografer favoriserede “Camera Vision, ” baseret på den måde, kameraet ser på, et mekanisk udsagn for en teknologisk tidsalder. Pictorialisme virkede pludselig som et levn fra det sidste århundrede, og billedkunstnere, ligesom Clarence White og Gerturde Kasebier, gik hver til sit og adskilte sig fra Stieglitz. Til sin tur tog den midaldrende Stieglitz op med andre yngre lige fotografer, Paul Strand og Charles Scheeler. Under påvirkning af den velrejste Steichen lærte Stieglitz hurtigt at sætte pris på avantgarde bevægelser i Europa og udvidede galleriets repertoire til ikke-fotografisk kunst. I en by, hvor de realistiske Ash Can -kunstnere forårsagede bestyrtelse, var Stieglitz den første til at give kunstnere som Picasso, Matisse og Brancusi shows i Amerika.

I begyndelsen af ​​det tyvende århundrede spillede Stieglitz mange roller i New York. I en by, hvor der var ringe interesse for progressiv kunst, fortsatte han sin karriere som fotograf, drev de små gallerier i fotosessionen, udgivet Kamera arbejde og fremmet kunstfotografering og avantgarde kunst fra Europa. Forsiden af Kamera arbejde blev designet af Edward Steichen i den populære Art nouveau -stil, der betegner et kunstperspektiv på fotografering. Kamera arbejde udgivet seminal kunstskrivning af forfattere som Sadakichi Hartmann. Det var på disse sider, at Gerturde Stein fik sine første publikationer om Matisse og Picasso. Galleriet 291 var et lille rum beklædt med opbevaringsskabe og hylder under wainscoting. Et gardin skjulte hylderne og over stolens gelænder var væggene forbeholdt udstilling af kunstværker, der blev vist på linjen, i en række. I midten af ​​rummet var et bord med en stor kobberskål med sæsonens blomster.

Betragteren nåede galleriet via en lille elevator, der holdt folk der, inklusive operatøren. Når han var i galleriet, mødte han/hun måske den lille snakkesalige mand, der holdt utrætteligt, ofte i timevis, foredrag avantgarde kunst. Stieglitz var også interesseret i at promovere amerikanske kunstnere og amerikansk kunst, og hans indsats og "hans kunstnere" udgjorde en vigtig vejstation mellem amerikansk provinsialisme og amerikansk hegemoni i efterkrigstiden. I disse tidlige år i New York City var Stieglitz den eneste kilde til avanceret kunst indtil Armory Show i 1913. I det sidste nummer af Kamera arbejde, Featured Stieglitz hans protogée, Paul Strand, og i den sidste udstilling af 291 præsenterede han en uklar kunstner, der bor i Texas, Georgia O ’Keeffe.

Da 291 -galleriet lukkede i 1917, åbnede Stieglitz The Intimate Gallery og senere An American Place, som udstillingsgallerier for hans arbejde og hans cirkels arbejde, en gruppe unge mænd, malerne, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Charles Scheeler, Charles Demuth, John Marin, fotografen, Paul Strand, og den eneste kvinde, hans elsker, Georgia O ’Keeffe. Disse kunstnere ville være de amerikanske modernister, en del af en større gruppe, der omfattede Abraham Walkowitz, Gerald Murphy og Edward Hopper. Med deres New York -tilgang til den europæiske modernismes udfordring ville denne gruppe repræsentere "Amerika", den mest industrialiserede nation i begyndelsen af ​​det tyvende århundrede.

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Kunsthistorie Nyheder

Alfred Stieglitz har været kendt for sin introduktion af moderne europæisk kunst til Amerika og for sin støtte til samtidige amerikanske kunstnere, men han var først og fremmest fotograf. Hans fotografier, der strækker sig over mere end fem årtier fra 1880'erne til 1930'erne, fejres bredt som nogle af de mest overbevisende nogensinde. Alfred Stieglitz: Kendt og ukendt, vist på National Gallery of Art West Building 2. juni til 2. september 2002, præsenterede 102 af Stieglitz fotografier fra National Gallery's samling. Udstillingen omfattede hele sit sortiment og udviklingen af ​​hans kunst og omfattede mange værker, der ikke var blevet udstillet i de sidste halvtreds år. Det fremhævede mindre kendte billeder for at demonstrere, hvordan de udvider vores forståelse af udviklingen af ​​hans kunst og hans bidrag til fotografering fra det 20. århundrede.

Udstillingen, der var kulminationen på et flerårigt projekt om Stieglitz på Nationalgalleriet, fejrede også udgivelsen af Alfred Stieglitz: Nøglesættet, en definitiv undersøgelse af denne sædvanlige figur i fotografiets historie. Bestående af 1.642 fotografier blev det centrale sæt af Stieglitz fotografier doneret til National Gallery af Georgia O'Keeffe i 1949 og 1980 og indeholder det fineste eksempel på hvert monteret tryk, der var i Stieglitz 'besiddelse på tidspunktet for hans død. Det var den største og mest omfattende samling af hans arbejde, der eksisterede.

Udstillingen, der blev arrangeret kronologisk, gav ny indsigt i udviklingen af ​​Stieglitz kunst og demonstrerer, hvordan han løbende undersøgte mediets tekniske og udtryksfulde evner.

Født i Hoboken, New Jersey, begyndte Stieglitz at fotografere, sandsynligvis i 1884, mens han var studerende i Tyskland. Mediet betagede og udfordrede ham, som intet andet havde gjort før. Hans lærer, Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, en meget respekteret fotograf, videnskabsmand og professor ved Königliche Technische Hochschule i Berlin, indgød i ham en dyb forståelse for procesens videnskab og praksis. I Vogels regi tog Stieglitz fat i en lang række emner og udforskede udtømmende forholdet mellem lys og fotografering.

Disse tekniske eksperimenter, herunder En gade i Sterzing, Tyrolen (1890), der ses på udstillingen, er blandt hans mest gennemførte tidlige værker. Stieglitz var også påvirket af samtidige tyske, hollandske og østrigske malere, hvoraf flere var nære venner. Han bestræbte sig på at replikere deres anekdotiske, fortællende og maleriske emne i fotografier som Høsten, Mittenwald (1886), også at se i udstillingen.

I efteråret 1890, efter ni års studier i Tyskland, vendte den 26-årige Stieglitz tilbage til New York og etablerede sig hurtigt som en førende kunstnerisk fotograf. Han fortsatte med at hente inspiration fra nutidige malere, men hans omfang udvidede betydeligt til at omfatte den franske kunstner Jean-François Millet, tyskeren Max Liebermann og amerikaneren James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Ligesom andre datidens fotografer begyndte Stieglitz at bruge et lille, håndholdt kamera, men han brugte alle midler, han havde til rådighed, til at omdanne sine billeder, som han skrev, fra blot "fotografier [til] billeder". Han beskåret radikalt sine negativer for at fjerne distraherende og fremmede elementer fra hans kompositioner. Han forstørrede dem også ofte for at lave udskrifter så store som 21 centimeter brede og let at retouchere dele af billederne. Yderligere tilegner han sig materialer og paletter af en maler, lavede han også carbon-, tyggegummibichromat- og fotogravuretryk i koksgrå og brune, endda røde, grønne og blå nuancer. Og han matte og indrammede omhyggeligt sine færdige udskrifter, så de ville få opmærksomhed i de store internationale udstillinger.

Flere af fotografierne, herunder Winter-Fifth Avenue (1893),

and A Wet Day on the Boulevard, Paris (1894), were in their original mats and framed as Stieglitz would have presented them in the 1890s.

In 1905 Stieglitz opened a gallery, which came to be called 291 (from its address on Fifth Avenue in New York), where he exhibited the work of his elite group of artistic photographers, the Photo-Secession (founded by Stieglitz in 1902). In 1908, in order to initiate a dialogue between contemporary photographers and painters, he began to show the work of leading European modernists, including Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Constantin Brancusi. These artists introduced Stieglitz to new ideas of color, form, and abstraction that deeply influenced his art.

In a series of photographs of New York from 1910, such as Outward Bound,

and Old and New New York, Stieglitz abandoned the soft focus of his work from the turn of the century and revealed the new, bolder use of form that he had learned from these artists.

Stieglitz continued his investigation of New York in the spring of 1915 in a series of photographs made out of the back window of 291. Influenced by Picasso and Braque, he sought to eliminate a sense of three-dimensional space and traditional one-point perspective. In these precisely constructed and elegantly realized photographs, Stieglitz carefully dissected the planes of the rooftops and buildings in order to reveal both the physical mass of the city and its psychological weight.

The portraits Stieglitz made at 291 represent a significant advancement in his art and demonstrate the dialogue between modern painting and photography that he sought to construct.

I Marius de Zayas (1913)

og Georgia O'Keeffe (1917) he placed the artists in front of their own works, echoing the forms from the canvas in his own depictions of them. Fascinated by Picasso, whom he met in 1911 and exhibited that same year and again in 1915, Stieglitz photographed several friends and family in front of the Spanish artist's works, as, for example, in Kitty at 291 (1915).

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1918-1921:

The years from 1918, when Georgia O'Keeffe moved to New York, until 1937, when Stieglitz put his camera away because of poor health, were the most prolific ones in his career. O'Keeffe inspired in him a creative passion he had never known before, and within the first three years that they lived together he had made more than 140 studies of her (the key set contains 331 photographs of O'Keeffe taken between 1917 and 1937). He called his photographs of her a "composite portrait," and his aim was to document not only his understanding of O'Keeffe's personality but also the larger concept of "womanhood." Stieglitz soon applied the lessons he had learned from photographing O'Keeffe to his portraits of other people.

In his series of studies of Helen Freeman (1921/1922), for example, he progressed, as he had done with O'Keeffe, from the formal studies of face and shoulders to more intimate photographs, and he also recorded her hands as an index of her personality.

A lighthearted, playful quality, coupled with a more daring experimentation, entered Stieglitz's work in the 1920s. With the closure of 291 in 1917, Stieglitz was freed from his responsibilities as a gallery director and had more time to devote to his own art. During the 1920s he and O'Keeffe spent several months each year at Lake George--his family's summer home in New York's rolling Adirondack Mountains. Here he vigorously investigated the most amateurish aspect of photography, the snapshot. Made with his small hand-held 4 x 5 or 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch cameras, these casual and spontaneous compositions record the long, languid days of summer, as seen in

Georgia O'Keeffe and Waldo Frank (1920), Katharine (1921), and Rebecca Salsbury Strand (1922).

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, encouraged by the work of American artists Arthur Dove, John Marin, and O'Keeffe, Stieglitz, for the first time in his art, began to explore the rural American landscape and photographed the surrounding vistas at Lake George. It was also during these years that Stieglitz made his series of abstract and evocative studies of clouds. Using a small hand-held camera that could be easily pointed at the zenith of the sky, he made photographs without a horizon line to anchor the viewer, thus creating a sense of disorientation and abstraction. He strove to make a new language for photography that was less dependent on subject matter, more intuitive and expressive of a mood or emotional state.

In the early 1930s Stieglitz rediscovered a subject that had inspired him throughout his career--New York City--but his photographs of it from these years have a formal strength and lucidity unknown in his previous work. He was inspired by the views from his windows high up in the newly constructed Shelton Hotel, where he and O'Keeffe lived from 1925 to 1936, as well as from his last gallery, An American Place, at 509 Madison Avenue, which he directed from 1929 until his death in 1946.

At various times of the day and using different lenses, he photographed the visual spectacle of the constantly changing city as seen in his series of photographs, From My Window at An American Place, taken from 1930 to 1932. When Stieglitz exhibited these photographs he grouped them into series--two of which have been recreated in the exhibition--that charted both the growth of the skyscrapers and the more subtle but constantly changing patterns of light and shade. Once the buildings were completed, though, Stieglitz generally lost interest in photographing them for the sense of change was no longer present.

In the early 1930s, O'Keeffe reappeared as a major subject in Stieglitz's art, but the distance between them, as seen in several studies on view in the exhibition, is obvious. With their metallic sheen, deep blacks and complex geometry, these photographs are among his strongest portraits of O'Keeffe and also his most poignant. As he spent more time alone at Lake George, the farmhouse and its surrounding fields, trees, and lakes once again became the focus of his art. Like his photographs of New York from the same time, these are rigorous but also quiet and intensely autobiographical works.

The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The curator was Sarah Greenough, the Gallery's curator of photographs and a noted expert on Alfred Stieglitz. It was on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from October 6, 2002, through January 5, 2003.

A new edition of the Gallery's award-winning 1983 book Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs and Writings, which had long been out of print was also issued.


The first modern photograph?

After his 8-year-old daughter Kitty finished the school year and he closed his Fifth Avenue art gallery for the summer, Alfred Stieglitz gathered her, his wife Emmeline, and Kitty’s governess for their second excursion to Europe as a family. The Stieglitzes departed for Paris on May 14, 1907, aboard the first-class quarters of the fashionable ship Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Although Emmeline looked forward to shopping in Paris and to visiting her relatives in Germany, Stieglitz was anything but enthusiastic about the trip. His marriage to status-conscious Emmeline had become particularly stressful amid rumors about his possible affair with the tarot-card illustrator/artist Pamela Coleman Smith. In addition, Stieglitz felt out of place in the company of his fellow upper-class passengers. But it was precisely this discomfort among his peers that prompted him to take a photograph that would become one of the most important in the history of photography. In his 1942 account “How The Steerage Happened,” Stieglitz recalls:

How I hated the atmosphere of the first class on that ship. One couldn’t escape the ‘nouveau riches.’ […]

On the third day out I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to get away from that company. I went as far forward on the deck as I could […]

As I came to the end of the desk [sic] I stood alone, looking down. There were men and women and children on the lower deck of the steerage. There was a narrow stairway leading up to the upper deck of the steerage, a small deck at the bow of the steamer.

To the left was an inclining funnel and from the upper steerage deck there was fastened a gangway bridge which was glistening in its freshly painted state. It was rather long, white, and during the trip remained untouched by anyone.

On the upper deck, looking over the railing, there was a young man with a straw hat. The shape of the hat was round. He was watching the men and women and children on the lower steerage deck. Only men were on the upper deck. The whole scene fascinated me. I longed to escape from my surroundings and join these people.

In this essay, written 35 years after he took the photograph, Stieglitz describes how The Steerage encapsulated his career’s mission to elevate photography to the status of fine art by engaging the same dialogues around abstraction that preoccupied European avant-garde painters:

A round straw hat, the funnel leading out, the stairway leaning right, the white drawbridge with its railings made of circular chains – white suspenders crossing on the back of a man in the steerage below, round shapes of iron machinery, a mast cutting into the sky, making a triangular shape. I stood spellbound for a while, looking and looking. Could I photograph what I felt, looking and looking and still looking? I saw shapes related to each other. I saw a picture of shapes and underlying that the feeling I had about life. […] Spontaneously I raced to the main stairway of the steamer, chased down to my cabin, got my Graflex, raced back again all out of breath, wondering whether the man with the straw hat had moved or not. If he had, the picture I had seen would no longer be. The relationship of shapes as I wanted them would have been disturbed and the picture lost.
But there was the man with the straw hat. He hadn’t moved. The man with the crossed white suspenders showing his back, he too, talking to a man, hadn’t moved. And the woman with a child on her lap, sitting on the floor, hadn’t moved. Seemingly, no one had changed position.
[…It] would be a picture based on related shapes and on the deepest human feeling, a step in my own evolution, a spontaneous discovery.

Hindsight

With this account, Stieglitz argues with the benefit of more than three decades of hindsight that The Steerage suggests that photographs have more than just a “documentary” voice that speaks to the truth-to-appearance of subjects in a field of space within narrowly defined slice of time. Rather, The Steerage calls for a more complex, layered view of photography’s essence that can accommodate and convey abstraction. (Indeed, later photographers Minor White and Aaron Siskind would engage this project further in direct dialogue with the Abstract Expressionist painting.)

Stieglitz is often criticized for overlooking the subjects of his photograph in this essay, which has become the account by which the photograph is discussed in our histories. But in his account for The Steerage, Stieglitz also calls attention to one of the contradictions of photography: its ability to provide more than just an abstract interpretation, too. The Steerage is not only about the “significant form” of shapes, forms and textures, but it also conveys a message about its subjects, immigrants who were rejected at Ellis Island, or who were returning to their old country to see relatives and perhaps to encourage others to return to the United States with them.

Ghastly conditions

As a reader of mass-marketed magazines, Stieglitz would have been familiar with the debates about immigration reform and the ghastly conditions to which passengers in steerage were subjected. Stieglitz’s father had come to America in 1849, during a historic migration of 1,120,000 Germans to the United States between 1845 and 1855. His father became a wool trader and was so successful that he retired by age 48. By all accounts, Stieglitz’s father exemplified the “American dream” that was just beyond the grasp of many of the subjects of The Steerage.

Moreover, investigative reporter Kellogg Durland traveled undercover as steerage in 1906 and wrote of it: “I can, and did, more than once, eat my plate of macaroni after I had picked out the worms, the water bugs, and on one occasion, a hairpin. But why should these things ever be found in the food served to passengers who are paying $36.00 for their passage?”

Still, Stieglitz was conflicted about the issue of immigration. While he was sympathetic to the plight of aspiring new arrivals, Stieglitz was opposed to admitting the uneducated and marginal to the United States of America—despite his claims of sentiment for the downtrodden. Perhaps this may explain his preference to avoid addressing the subject of The Steerage, and to see in this photograph not a political statement, but a place for arguing the value of photography as a fine art.


Who Were They? The Truth Behind Stieglitz’s Iconic Photograph ‘The Steerage’ Revealed

The Steerage (1907) by Alfred Stieglitz. (Photo: The Jewish Museum)

Everything you think you know about one of the most famous photographs in history is wrong.

Alfred Stieglitz’s 1907 The Steerage is famous around the world as perhaps the classic representation of the 20th-century immigrant arriving in America from Europe for the first time. In the decades since it was taken, the photo has become inextricably tied up with the immigrant journey.

Yet Rebecca Shaykin, curator of “Masterpieces & Curiosities: Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage” at the Jewish Museum through February 14, points out that our understanding of the photograph is largely misinformed.

Arnold Newman, Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe, An American Place, New York City, (1944). (Photo: © Arnold Newman, courtesy The Jewish Museum)

When Stieglitz took the photograph, he was actually on board a ship heading øst toward Europe—dashing any possible tales of the vessel gliding historically into Ellis Island. In other words, those pictured were most likely people who had been denied entry to the U.S. and were forced to return home. Moreover, a man who appears, at fast glance, to be in a tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl—a detail which has made the image a touchstone in the Jewish community for decades—is actually a woman in a striped cloak.

Given the enduring power of the image, these details are somewhat immaterial, however. “It’s very clear that this image, and Stieglitz being a Jewish photographer, is very important to Jewish history and Jewish culture,” Ms. Shaykin told the Observer during a walkthrough of the show. “[In his memoir] he tells the story about how he came and saw the steerage class passengers on the boat. He felt a natural affinity to them. He doesn’t outright say it’s because, as a son of German-Jewish immigrants, he felt some sort of kinship to them, but it’s implied.”

In Stieglitz’s own account, he described traveling with his daughter and first wife, Emily, whom he described as more decadently inclined than himself. “My wife insisted on going on the Kaiser Wilhem II—the fashionable ship of the North German Lloyd at the time,” the photographer lamented of the journey. “How I hated the atmosphere of the first class on that ship! One couldn’t escape the nouveaux riches.”

On the third day, Stieglitz claimed, he couldn’t stand it any longer and took a walk to the ship’s steerage where, compelled by the people below and geometric architectural structures he saw, he ran to grab his camera.

‘If all my photographs were lost, and I’d be represented by just one, ‘The Steerage’…I’d be satisfied.’

“Spontaneously I raced to the main stairway of the steamer, chased down to my cabin, got my Graflex, raced back again.” (The exhibition text quotes his story of the account.) “Would I get what I saw, what I felt? Finally I released the shutter, my heart thumping. I had never heard my heart thump before. Had I gotten my picture? I knew if I had, another milestone in photography would have been reached.”

The Steerage is one of several visual milestones of the immigrant experience selected by the Jewish Museum for “Masterpieces & Curiosities”—described by the museum as a series of intimate “essay” exhibitions. Previous pieces, for example, have included a Russian Jewish immigrant family’s quilt, circa 1899, and Diane Arbus’ famed Jewish Giant, photographed in 1970.

Installation view of the “Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage exhibition at the Jewish Museum. (Photo: David Heald)

Til The Steerage, the museum has suspended the image in a glass vitrine alongside two related pieces of artwork: Vik Muniz’s 2000 appropriations of Stieglitz’s photograph in chocolate sauce, and Arnold Newman’s 1944 double portrait of Stieglitz and his second wife, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe. In addition, there is also a small-scale replica of the Kaiser Wilhem II and various ephemera, such as postcards that were sold on board the ship.

To the left of The Steerage, a cluster of reproductions of the photograph are on display. There is a 1911 issue of Camera Work, edited by Stieglitz himself, a 1944 Saturday Evening Post profile by Thomas Craven titled “Stieglitz—Old Master of the Camera” and Alfred Kazin’s memoir. The critic, himself the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, both owned a print of the work and used it as a frontispiece in his memoir A Walker in the City. The picture has enjoyed numerous reproductions, even appearing on the cover of a recent textbook titled The Columbia History of Jews and Judaism in America.

Vik Muniz’s The Steerage (After Alfred Stieglitz), from the Pictures of Chocolate series, (2000). (Photo: © The Jewish Museum)

“Just reproducing the images over and over again, they become part of the popular imagination,” said Ms. Shaykin. “It’s interesting to me that the first time he published it was in 1911—there was a very select group of people who cared deeply and passionately about Modern art at this time. Then, nearly 20 years after he took it, 1924, he’s reproducing it in Vanity Fair, and then again in Det Lørdag aftenpost toward the end of his life. He’s really pushing his work—that image in particular—into the world to become quite popular.” (Det Vanity Fair reproduction was, rather misguidedly, printed alongside a satirical advice column titled “How to be Frightfully Foreign.”)

Stieglitz made no effort to hide his intentions. “If all my photographs were lost, and I’d be represented by just one, The Steerage,” he said near the end of his career, “I’d be satisfied.”

As for Ms. Shaykin, she hopes viewers will walk away understanding where Stieglitz was coming from. The photographer may have been traveling in the lap of luxury, but he chose to photograph, and document for decades to come, the travelers on a very different journey.

Like happens so often, she said, “[The photograph] has really had a life of its own beyond the original intention of the artist.”


The Jewish Side Of Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) is perhaps the most important figure in the history of visual arts in America. Before him, photographs were considered items that capture moments in time – and nothing more. Stieglitz changed that. As a virtuoso and visionary photographer as a grand promoter of photography as a discoverer and nurturer of great photographers and artists as a publisher, patron, collector, gallery owner, and exhibition organizer and as a catalyst and charismatic leader in the photographic and art worlds for over 30 years, Stieglitz elevated photographs into works of art.

Stieglitz published the seminal periodical Camera Work (1903-17) and operated prominent galleries where he not only exhibited photographs, but also introduced previously unknown modern European painters and sculptors to America, including Picasso, Rodin, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne, and Duchamp. He also mentored and championed many American artists, including particularly his future wife, Georgia O’Keeffe, who became his muse of sorts.

Stieglitz led what became known as the Pictorialist movement, which promoted photography as an art form similar to the traditional graphic arts of drawing and painting, but using a camera instead of a paintbrush. Indeed, the Pictorialists were known for the darkroom manipulation of their photographs, as they brought their own artistry and creativity to what would otherwise be a rote recording of a scene or subject.

But Stieglitz himself relied less upon elaborate re-touching than tapping natural effects, such as snow, steam, rain droplets, and reflected light, to create his images. Troubled by the rise of American power yet absorbed by it, and seeking to soften its apparent brutality by cloaking it in nature, he reimagined the cityscape in impressionist terms and established a novel aesthetic for urban photography, exhibiting a striking technical mastery of tone, texture, and atmospherics.

Stieglitz was born to German Jewish immigrants who settled in Hoboken (1849), became prosperous in America, and later moved to New York (1871). His father, Ephraim, who served three years as an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War, abandoned the traditional Orthodox faith of his family and became a devotee of Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of Reform Judaism in America.

Although his father characterized himself as “a principled atheist,” he continued to strongly identify as a Jew, bragging about being the only Jewish member of the prestigious Jockey Club. Changing and Americanizing his name to Edward, he was active in supporting Jewish institutions, including leading the fundraising effort to establish the Jewish Hospital (later renamed Mount Sinai).

Nonetheless, there is no evidence that he ever provided his son with any Jewish education, and Alfred and his siblings were taught to think of themselves as assimilated “ex-Jews” in fact, Alfred was educated at a “nondenominational” school dedicated to turning its students into good Christians.

Alfred began his higher education at City College of New York, but, in 1881, when public support for anti-Semitism escalated at the College, particularly in the school newspaper, his parents moved the family to Berlin, where, ironically, they believed that their Jewish son could receive a quality education unencumbered by American anti-Semitism.

Alfred enrolled in the Technishe Hochschule, where he studied mechanical engineering before becoming enamored with photography and changing his attention to photochemistry. Returning to New York in 1890, he became a partner at the Photochrome Engraving Company joined the society of amateur photographers served as chief editor of the American Amateur Photographer (1893-96) and gained recognition for his stylistically unique photographs of New York City.

Like many German Jews at that time, Stieglitz was uncomfortable with his ethnicity, even identifying his Jewishness as that which was most vexing about himself – “the key to my impossible makeup” – and, like many Jewish artists at the turn of the 20th century sensitive to prevailing anti-Semitism, he did not want to call attention to his Jewishness and avoided contact with organized Jewry.

Historians and commentators manifest a distinctly mixed view of Stieglitz’s place in the Jewish pantheon. For eksempel i Vores Amerika (1919), American Jewish author Waldo Frank, a close friend who knew him well, writes, “Stieglitz is primarily the Jewish mystic. Suffering is his daily bread: sacrifice is his creed: failure is his beloved. A true Jew.” When his fame began to spread, The American Hebrew wrote that he was “a Jew who had arrived.”

In dramatic contrast, Thomas Craven, a respected art critic, described him in 1935 as a “Hoboken Jew [i.e., a person wholly without class] without knowledge of, or interest in, the historical American background.” Many of Stieglitz’s critics were unquestionably motivated by anti-Semitism as but one stark example, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Gould Fletcher characterized Stieglitz as “an eccentric Jewish photographer” and berated him for using his “Jewish persuasiveness” in the service of “metropolitan charlatanry.”

Many leaders in American arts had adopted the emerging fascist view of abstract art as “Jewish” and “degenerate,” and high society generally blamed Stieglitz’s “brash Jewish behavior” as responsible for his disruption of the comfortable and established artistic status quo.

As a sort of middle ground, the editor of My Faraway One characterizes Stieglitz as “deeply assimilated, yet acutely aware of his identity and historical tragedy to come.” Stieglitz wrote to O’Keeffe in 1933 about that “historical tragedy” – i.e., the Holocaust – in October 1933 (with regard to news coming out of Germany): “Every hour seems to bring the world closer & closer to an abyss.”

Stieglitz’s Jewish consciousness manifested itself in various ways. He took great pride at FDR’s appointment of a Jew, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., as Secretary of the Treasury in a November 16, 1933 letter to O’Keeffe, he wrote: “I see by the paper that Alma’s brother is to be head of the Treasury! – Finally, a Jew…” (Morgenthau’s sister was Alma Wertheim, who collected Stieglitz’s work.)

In a correspondence to O’Keeffe written a month later, he expresses strong support for Frank’s New Republic article “Why Should the Jews Survive?,” notwithstanding his keen embarrassment when Frank argued that the Jews should survive because they produce the likes of Einstein, Freud, Marx… and Stieglitz. When he essentially left O’Keeffe for Jewish photographer Dorothy Norman, he cited their “shared German-Jewish heritage” as one reason.

Although Stieglitz apparently never took an overtly “Jewish photograph,” he did occasionally seem to draw on Jewish themes as, for example, in The Steerage (1907), one of the only photographs he ever took of people in a group. Traveling first class with his first wife and daughter, he hated the ostentatious lap of luxury and, seeking a respite from what he characterized as “the nouveaux riche socialites,” he descended to steerage. Stunned by what he saw, he ran back to get his camera and returned to take the historic shot. For the rest of his life, he remained firm in his belief that The Steerage was his seminal and defining work and the single greatest photograph he ever took.

The Steerage (1907)

Considered by many to be the definitive representation of European immigrants arriving in America at the beginning of the 20th century, The Steerage captured what appears to be a man at the center of the photograph draped in a tallit. This long-held view, however, has been definitively debunked by the critics.

First, it turns out that when Stieglitz took the famous photograph, he was aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm II heading to Bremen and væk from America, meaning that the photo could not be depicting Jewish immigrants coming to Ellis Island. Sadly, the passengers in the photo were most likely people denied entry to the United States and who were therefore forced to return home to Europe. A noted photography expert studying the light concluded that the shot was taken while the ship was in port in Plymouth, England. Second, the “man” wearing a “tallit” turns out to be, upon closer inspection, a woman draped in a striped cloak.

Nonetheless, the power of the photo endures, and the image remains important in Jewish history, reflecting Stieglitz’s natural empathy for the wretched refuse of humanity and his kinship for the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” who surely reminded him of his own German-Jewish immigrant roots.

Looking down into the steerage deck, the assimilated yet still Jewish Stieglitz was able to see both his past and the promise of his future as the son of Jewish immigrants who, no different than the teeming mass below him, had come to America seeking a better life for themselves and their families and manifesting their faith that hard work would enable them to attain that.

Moreover, in the quasi-autobiographical photograph, which marked a turning point in his career, he all but abandoned the idea of making photographs look like paintings instead, he began to focus on “straight” photography, innovating a “freeze the action in the moment” approach to capture actual events as they were occurring.

Subsequently turning to more “realist” photography, he documented the rise of the industrialized American nation, including the problems inherent in increased urbanization and the development of modern commercial culture and its attendant changes in social behavior and norms. Although photojournalism had its origins in the Civil War, Stieglitz elevated it to a new and exciting artistic form, thereby becoming renowned as “the father of photojournalism.”

With O’Keeffe away painting in New Mexico, for which she had come to develop great affection and where she spent increasing time away from her husband, Stieglitz writes this August 17, 1938 correspondence to his childhood friend, American painter Frank Simon Herrmann (“Sime”) (only the first and last pages are exhibited):

When your letter arrived I immediately addressed an envelope to you.… Laziness & procrastination I abhor yet I seem to be afflicted with both. Naturally I was shocked to hear that you were not painting [,] proof positive that physical disabilities were getting the better of you. I can see nearly any one else ill before picturing you as “down” even if only relatively so. I do hope you are painting once more – meaning thereby that you are yourself again.… I do feel like a fool myself sitting here day in and out doing nothing.… Georgia got away a week ago & is once more in her country [New Mexico]. Her arm still bothers her & she has not yet started painting. I have no desire to photograph yet it is getting on my nerves to be without my camera or cameras. It’s awful this being indecently young in spirit but otherwise ripe for the scrap-heap.… We have certainly lived and neither has a kick coming unless the kick coming to us for not having lived still harder or worked harder – I receive most pathetic letters from Eilshemius. Have been swapping letters with him for some years. He hasn’t been out of his room for years. I doubt his receiving but a bagatelle for his paintings. The dealers have to look out for themselves & theirs & Co! Same old story. Ag & Herbert arrived yesterday…

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Stieglitz had essentially ceased taking photographs in 1937, and in 1938, the year of this letter, he experienced serious heart problems, necessitating the convalescence he mentions. Over the next eight years, additional heart attacks weakened him, the last one taking his life. It is interesting to note that in 1938 – when his wife’s arm “still bother[ed] her & she ha[d] not yet started painting,” as Stieglitz writes in our letter – O’Keeffe painted one of her most famous works, Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory.

Herrmann (1866-1942), the person to whom this letter was addressed, was best known in Germany where he spent most of his career, but he actually grew up with Stieglitz on the same East 65th Street block in Manhattan. The two studied in Germany at about the same time, took vacations together, exchanged letters, and were lifelong friends.

He created work that embraced Beaux-Arts Academic Realism to Impressionism to the New Objectivity, and he was a founding member of two important groups of the German avant-garde centered in Munich: the Munich Secessionist Group (SEMA), which included his friend, Paul Klee, and the New Secession of German Artists, led by Wassily Kandinsky.

The “pathetic” Eilshemius referred to in the letter by Stieglitz is Louis Michel Eilshemius (1864-1941), an American painter. Trained at the Art Students League of New York and Paris’ Académie Julian, his supporters included Marcel Duchamp and Henri Matisse, but he never achieved the success he desired and, after a severely critical reception of his 1921 show, he almost completely gave up painting.

After sustaining serious injury in an auto accident six years earlier in 1932, he became a recluse (“he hasn’t been out of his room for years”), quickly ate through his family fortune, and died a pauper (“I doubt his receiving but a bagatelle for his paintings”).

Finally, the letter mentions Stieglitz’s sister “Ag” – Agnes Stieglitz Engelhard – and his brother in-law George Herbert Engelhard.


Berenice Abbott, Berenice Abbott Photographs, New York: Horizon Press, 1970

An overview of the work of Berenice Abbott shown through photographs selected by Berenice Abbott, with an introduction by poet Muriel Rukeyser.

Hank O’Neal, Berenice Abbott American Photographer, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1982

The only biography of Abbott in print, it covers all of her work through the 1980s.

Bonnie Yochelson, Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, New York: The New Press, 1997

A new and improved edition, this book includes all of the photographs in Abbott’s ten-year photo documentary of New York. More than 300 pictures are divided into regions with detailed maps and captions from the original research. Includes a lively essay by Yochelson about Abbott’s New York work.

Berenice Abbott, New Guide to Better Photography, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1953

The second updated edition of Abbott’s Guide to Better Photography, this how-to manual is illustrated with photographs by Abbott and others. Includes a revealing chapter on composition, Abbott-style.

Kay Weaver and Martha Wheelock, Berenice Abbott, A View of the 20th Century, Los Angeles: Ishtar Films, 1992 (Color, 59 minutes)

An entertaining documentary film about Berenice Abbott’s career, narrated by the artist.

Classic Essays on Photography, red. Alan Trachtenberg, New Haven, Conn.: Leete’s Island Books, Inc., 1951

Abbott’s essay written for a photo magazine detailing her views on both photography as art and documentary photography.

All of the Abbott photos from her study of New York on-line, plus the essay by Bonnie Yochelson from the newly released book, Changing New York


Se videoen: Tribute to Alfred Stieglitz


Kommentarer:

  1. Bajin

    Something I could not go to this blog today.

  2. Stedman

    Tillykke, denne meget gode idé vil være nyttig.

  3. Arajind

    Thank you very much, how can I thank you?



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