who would that be?
In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.
Alfred Stieglitz 1864-1946
I will admit it straight out…I am enamoured of Alfred Stieglitz. His images resonate with me right down to my core. I came across a book titled “Aperture Masters of Photography” Number Six one day while in a used book store and so the enchantment began.
What drew me in initially were his fabulous atmospherics; his use of steam, fog, and snow to create qualities in his images that were similar to the Impressionists. He is unquestionably responsible for launching the rise of modern photography in America in the early 20th century. With his mastery of tone and texture, and ability to imbue an image with emotional intent, he led the Pictorialist Movement which advocated for the artistic legitimacy of photography. He was also one of the first photographers in the 1890’s to create night images of artistic significance. His night scenes taken on rain drenched streets are exquisite masterpieces of light and composition.
“For Stieglitz was primarily the photographer in whatever he did, no experience being truly complete for him until he had photographed it-” Dorothy Norman
He was determined that photography would be recognized as a new medium of expression and in 1902 founded the Photo-Secession movement and shortly thereafter, the gallery, with the cooperation of Edward Steichen, that became known as the 291 in New York City. In addition to photographers, well-known artists like Picasso, Rodin, Matisse, and Cézanne all received American debuts at the 291. In 1907 he introduced the work of Georgia O’Keeffe who would become his wife in 1924.
His later work became more influenced by Cubism, straight photography favoring clarity, sharp focus, and high contrast, with less of the sumptuous effects of his earlier work. He developed a friendship with Ansel Adams and in 1936 granted him a one person show at An American Place which he founded in 1929 on Madison Avenue in New York.
His work as a photographer, his editorship of several major publications in his time, and the galleries that he founded in his lifetime that served as the starting points in the careers of many artists, have all taken their place in the history of photography.
I find his work to be as timely today as it was then and credit him with allowing me to fearlessly post an image of a sunset or a rainbow in black and white. I’ve only just touched on his accomplishments here as to cover it all would require volumes, but if I could go back in time, what an experience it would be to see life through his lens!