Alfred Stieglitz Essay

Alfred Stieglitz Essay

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Alfred Stieglitz
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Alfred Stieglitz was an influential photographer who spent his life fighting for the recognition of photography as a valid art form. He was a pioneering photographer, editor and gallery owner who played pivotal role in defining and shaping modernism in the United States. (Lowe 23). He took pictures in a time when photography was considered as only a scientific curiosity and not an art. As the controversy over the art value of photography became widespread, Stieglitz began to fight for the recognition of his chosen
medium. This battle would last his whole life.

Edward Stieglitz, father of Alfred, was born in Germany in 1833. He grew up on a farm, loved nature, and was an artist at heart. Legend has it that, independent and strong willed, Edward Stieglitz ran away from home at the age of sixteen because his mother insisted on upon starching his shirt after he had begged her not to (Lowe 23). Edward would later meet Hedwig Warner and they would have their first son, Alfred. Alfred was the first of six born to his dad Edward and mom Hedwig. As a child Alfred was remembered as a boy with thick black hair, large dark eyes, pale fine skin,
a delicately modeled mouth with a strong chin (Peterson 34). In 1871 the
Stieglitz family lived at 14 East 60th street in Manhattan. No buildings stood
between Central Park and the Stieglitz family home. As Stieglitz got older
he started to show interest in photography, posting every photo he could
find on his bedroom wall. It wasn't until he got older that his photography
curiosity begin to take charge of his life.

Stieglitz formally started photography at the age of nineteen, during his first
years at the Berlin Polytechnic School. At this time photography was in its
infancy as an art form. Alfred learned the fine arts of photography by
watching a local photographer in Berlin working in the store's dark room.

After making a few pictures of his room and himself, he enrolled in a
photochemistry course. This is where his photography career would begin.

His earliest public recognition came from England and Germany. It began in
1887 when Stieglitz won the first of his many first prizes in a competition.

The judge who gave him the award was Dr. P.H. Emerson, then the most
widely known English advocate of photography as an art (Doty 23). Dr.
Emerson later wrot...


... middle of paper ...


...raphers.

At the turn of the century, a new class of creative individuals, called painter-
photographer emerged. This group fulfilled Stieglitz' s dream for pictorial
photography. Its presence provided the movement with individuals who
were trained in the established arts and who legitimized the
artistic claims of pictorial photography by the fact that they were willing to
use the photographic medium. The very term painter photographer was
made up in reference to Frank Eugene who worked simultaneously with
Stieglitz in media for a decade. Eugene attended a German fine arts
academy, and painted theatrical portraits of the United States. In 1889 he
mounted a solo exhibition of pictorial photographs at the Camera Club of
New York, which, pointedly, was reviewed in Camera Notes as painting
photography (Norman 23).

In conclusion Stieglitz's fight for photography developed into new ideas for
future generations. He continued to make his own experiments and to
defend the work of others also breaking new ground. The magazines he
edited, like the galleries he founded, swiftly became dynamic points of
contact between artist and public and a battleground for new ideas.

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