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Alfred Stieglitz

October 14, 2011

Alfred Stieglitz has been a constant inspiration for me. His photos changed the way I looked at photography and life. He did not use photo tricks or special effects. He recorded the world as it actually was. He is currently having two shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art- One is of his photographs and the other is of his art collection.

If you do not know who he is, here is a brief summary.

Alfred Stieglitz was born January 1, 1864, the son of Edard Stieglitz, a lesser-known businessman and later painter.

Stieglitz lived a rather privileged life, living off first his father and later his wife, allowing him to pursue photography without the necessity for consistent income.  He is best known as being one of the first people in America to introduce photography as an art form.  He is also known for running several New York art galleries and promoting many up-and-coming artists into the public consciousness.

In 1918, he left his wife for Georgia O’Keeffe and the two lived a rather passionate Bohemian life.  The two married soon after his divorce was finalized and over the years, the couple had a sometimes passionate, sometimes working relationship as husband and wife.

Between 1917 and 1937, Stieglitz shot over 300 portraits of Georgia O’Keefe. Stieglitz believed a portrait needs to be more than just the face to portray the subject’s overall experience.

“Stieglitz had a very sharp eye for what he wanted to say with the camera. . . . His idea of a portrait was not just one picture. His dream was to start with a child at birth and photograph that child in all of its activities as it grew to be a person and on throughout its adult life. As a portrait it would be a photographic diary.” -Georgia O’Keefe

Stieglitz was known as being a consummate perfectionist.  He was known to labor over the same shot for hours taking multiple exposures of the same scene and selecting only his one favorite to mount.  Stieglitz was also known for being creative and pushing the boundaries of photography.  He was one of the first to attempt to use portable cameras to capture everyday scenes and poses in an artistic manner.  Through his work, his writing, and his support of fellow artists, it is fair to say that no other single individual has had as great impact on modern photography as Alfred Stieglitz.

The Last Joke, Bellagio, 1887

Snapshot of Paris, 1911

From the Back Window 291, New York, 1915

Back Window 291, New York, 1915

Reflections Night, New York, 1896

Winter Fifth Avenue, New York, 1892

Icy night, New York, 1893

Equivalent 1926

Equivalent 1926

Equivalent 1929

Equivalent 1930

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