A is for Alfred Stieglitz

#Photography #Research #BTECL3


“What I was driving at had nothing to do with blurred or sharp”

Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946) was an American photographer and modern art promoter. He was advancing a new vision for a modern world, and the photography was an epitome of the new way of seeing. He is known as the father of the modern photography and for promoting American artists, but also introducing many avant-garde European artists into U.S. What was happening in art influenced photography and vice versa.

He always saw himself as a rebel, even as a young photography student in Berlin in the early 1880’s. His wealthy father who was born in Germany sent him to study mechanical engineering, which he quickly abandoned in favour of photography. He was fascinated and worked day and night photographing and making prints. Always trying new things. With a generous allowance from his father he spent some years traveling and photographing through Austria and Italy.

He wanted to make a photograph equal to a work of art, and he studied and worked as possessed to make it. He sent his pictures everywhere where prize was given.

In 1890 when he was 26 under a pressure from family he was called back to become husband and businessman, and he failed at both. He was anarchistic and full of rebellion against conventional society that his wife hold dear. Their disastrous honeymoon in 1894 resulted in his finest early work.

When he came back to New York he determined that photography would be elevated to art form. He was first to show photography in his gallery next to paintings (than not yet famous French Impressionists). For many it was a threat rather than promise.

“Every photograph has an equivalent idea or emotion attached to it”



“Equivalents” series (1929) – pictures of clouds – is one of the first photographic series based around the idea of symbolism. Technically they are pictures of clouds, but what do they mean to you, what do they represent? It is not about the subject matter.

He constantly pushed the way people thought about photography. To him the picture was a metaphor for another idea, experience or feeling, completely open to the interpretation of the viewer.

References (You Tube videos):

Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye

Art Movements Through Photography (B&H)


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