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Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946)Alfred Stieglitz

Fine Art, Documentary, Photojournalism

Biography: Few individuals have exerted as strong an influence on twentieth-century American art and culture as the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1864 during the Civil War, Stieglitz lived until 1946. He witnessed some of the most profound changes this country has ever experienced: two world wars, the Great Depression, and the growth of America from a rural, agricultural nation to an industrialized and cultural superpower. But, more significantly, he also helped to affect some of these transformations. Through his New York galleries--the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue, which he directed from 1905-1917; The Intimate Gallery, 1925-1929; and An American Place, 1929-1946--he introduced modern European art to this country, organizing the first exhibitions in America of work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Paul CÚzanne, among others. In addition, he was one of the first to champion and support American modernist artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Demuth.

Photography was always of central importance to Stieglitz: not only was it the medium he employed to express himself, but, more fundamentally, it was the touchstone he used to evaluate all art. Just as it is apparent today that computers and digital technology will dominate not only our lives but also our thinking in the next century, so too did Stieglitz realize, long before many of his contemporaries, that photography would be a major cultural force in the twentieth century. Fascinated with what he called "the idea of photography," Stieglitz foresaw that it would revolutionize all aspects of the way we learn and communicate and that it would profoundly alter all of the arts.

Stieglitz's own photographs were central to his understanding of the medium: they were the instruments he used to plumb both its expressive potential and its relationship to the other arts. When he began to photograph in the early 1880s, the medium was still in its infancy. Complicated and cumbersome and employed primarily by professionals, photography was seen by most as an objective tool and utilized for its descriptive and recording capabilities. By the time ill health forced Stieglitz to stop photographing in 1937, photography and the public's perception of it had changed dramatically, thanks in large part to his efforts. Through the publications he edited, including Camera Notes, Camera Work, and 291; through the exhibitions he organized; and through his own lucid and insightful photographs, Stieglitz had conclusively demonstrated the expressive power of the medium. (National Gallery of Art)

More on Alfred Stieglitz:

national Gallery of Art - Alfred Stieglitz
'Excellent site, featuring thematic tours that highlight the Alfred Stieglitz Collection from the National Gallery of Art. Includes biography and related resources.

Excellent Presentation of Stieglitz's work.

A History of Photography - Stieglitz
Informative article on the life and work of Alfred Stieglitz.

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