Friday, January 1, 2016

Alfred Stieglitz: He Helped Turn Photography Into Art

File:Stieglitz-Venetian Canal.jpg
Venitian Canal, also known as A Bit of Venice                          Alfred Stieglitx, 1897
Alfred Stieglitz was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on January 1, 1864. One could say that the advent of digital photography and photo editing software has made every photographer "above average" much like the children living in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon. I would guess that the digital age has certainly improved photography but that still leaves open the question of the mind's eye, the experience, the light, and the image that emerges from the developer, fixer, and wash, be it liquid or binary. Stieglitz was among the first to see beauty emerge out of the documentary decades of the history of early photography. 

The Art Story website describes his legacy in these words:

Alfred Stieglitz led the Pictorialist movement, which advocated the artistic legitimacy of photography in the United States. Without his influence, photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Westonwould never have been able to become household names. His own works defined the greater Pictorialist project and set a firm aesthetic example for his contemporaries, many of whom were exhibited in Camera Work magazine. Prior to his efforts, photographs were seen purely as historical records. He single-handedly popularized the medium and introduced America to European modernism with Gallery 291. Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, and Paul Cézanne all received their American debuts at the gallery. He launched the career of his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe, and lauded her - however unfairly - as the greatest female artist of the twentieth century. He laid the foundation for the current proliferation of digital cameras. While nearly everyone is an amateur photographer today, few were at the fin de siecle, and Stieglitz was the leader of those few.

I have a feeling Stieglitz may come to mind when you snap that next photo with your iPhone. 


Photography and Ilustrations:; public domain photography from Camera Notes, Volume i, Number 2, 1897


No comments: