History of Photography


History of Photography

A World History of Photography

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991

Photographers' Dictionary



Chapter 7



F. HOLLAND DAY  (collection)
ANNE W. BRIGMAN  (collection)
CLARENCE H. WHITE  (collection)
ADOLF DE MEYER  (collection)
HEINRICH KUEHN  (collection)







Pictorialism in the United States

American photographs shown at the London Salon in 1899 were singled out for the "virtues" of "concentration, strength, massing of light and shade and breadth of effect"—qualities exemplified in Day's unusual portrait of a young black man entitled An Ethiopian Chief (pi. no. 386). Several factors made American work appear vigorous in European eyes. For one, the Pictorialist movement was exceptionally broad-based, with activities in small towns and major cities, and it attracted people from varied economic, social, and regional backgrounds. Unlike their European counterparts, who were mainly men of means or in the arts, Americans of both sexes, active in commercial photography, in the arts, in business, in the professions, and as housewives, joined photographic societies, giving the movement a varied and democratic cast.

Women, who were more active in all aspects of photography in the United States, were especially prominent in Pictorialism. Gertrude Kasebier, the most illustrious of the female portraitists, was praised for having done more for artistic portraiture (pi. no. 387) than any other of her time—painter or photographer—by her discerning sense of "what to leave out." Many women, among them Boughton, Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Mary Devens, Emma Farnsworth, Clara Sipprell, Eva Watson-Schutze, and Mathilde Weil, specialized in portraiture and refined themes, exemplified by The Rose (pi. no. 388)—a portrait in Pre-Raphaelite style by Watson-Schutze. The nude, sometimes conceived in allegorical terms, attracted Anne W. Brigman, Adelaide Hanscom, and Jane Reece; Brigman's 1905 work The Bubble (pi. no. 389) is typical of the idyllic treatment accorded this subject by both men and women at a time when such camera images were just becoming accepted by sophisticated viewers. Women also were among the early professional photojournalists in the United States; Frances Benjamin Johnston, who exhibited at salons and joined the Photo-Secession, was a freelance magazine photographer of note (see Chapter 8). In 1900, she collected and took abroad 142 works by 28 women photographers for exhibition in France and Russia—further evidence that as a medium without a long tradition of male-dominated academies, photography offered female participants an opportunity for self-expression denied them in the traditional visual arts.

Another difference between Americans and Europeans involved attitudes toward the manipulation of prints that made photographs look like works of graphic art. Reflecting the considerable disagreement among American critics about the virtues of handwork on negatives and prints, photographers in the United States chose less frequently to work with processes that completely obscured the mechanical origin of camera images. Whether members of the Photo-Secession or not, they preferred platinum, carbon, and, less often, gum-bichromate, sometimes in combination with platinum, to bromoil and oil pigment materials. Even when availing themselves of the variety of colorations made possible with gum-bichromate, they favored, with several notable exceptions, direct printing without hand intervention on relatively smooth rather than heavily textured papers.

Traces of a wide variety of tendencies current in graphic art are to be seen in the work of American Pictorialists. Within the Photo-Secession and in some of the better-organized Pictorialist societies in the East, the dominant styles were derived from Tonalist and Symbolist paintings, but the influence of other movements in the arts, in particular that of the French Barbizon painters, is also visible. Toward 1900, the art of the Japanese became an especially potent influence, reaching both graphic artists and photographers in the United States in part through the writings of the eminent art teacher Arthur Wesley Dow, who translated its concepts into a system of flat tonal harmonies called notan. With its emphasis on subtle ungraduatcd tonalities, this manner of handling chiaroscuro, in concert with simplicity of composition and absence of deep spatial perspective, imparted a distinctively decorative aspect to many Pictorialist images.

386. F. HOLLAND DAY. An Ethiopian Chief, c. 1896.
Platinum print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933.

F. HOLLAND DAY  (see collection)

387. GERTRUDE KASEBIER. Robert Henri, c. 1907.
Silver print toned and coated to simulate gum print.
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; F. M. Hall Collection.

GERTRUDE KASEBIER  (see collection)

388. EVA WATSON-SCHUTZE. The Rose, 1903 or before.
Gum bichromate print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.

EVA WATSON-SCHUTZE. Nude woman on a rock, 1904

EVA WATSON-SCHUTZE. Mother and children looking at an album, 1904

389. ANNE W. BRIGMAN. The Bubble, 1905.
Gelatin silver print. Art Museum. nncnitv, Princeton, N.J.; gift of Mrs. Raymond C. Collins.

ANNE W. BRIGMAN  (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Anne W. Brigman (1869 - 1950) was an American photographer and one of the original members of the Photo-Secession movement in America. Her most famous images were taken between 1900 and 1920, and depict nude women in primordial, naturalistic contexts.
Brigman was born in Hawaii in 1869 and moved to California when she was sixteen. In 1894 she married a sea captain, Martin Brigman. She was trained as a painter but began taking photos around 1902. That year, Alfred Stieglitz noticed Brigman's work and invited her to join the Photo-Secession, an elite group of pictorialist American photographers who were dedicated to transforming photography into a higher form of art. Brigman was the only Fellow of the society west of the Mississippi River, and one of the few women. Her photos were printed in three issues of Stieglitz's journal, Camera Work.
In California, she became revered by West Coast photographers and her photography influenced many of her contemporaries. Here, she was also known as an actress in local plays, and as a poet performing both her own work and more popular pieces such as Enoch Arden. An admirer of the work of George Wharton James, she photographed him on at least one occasion. Brigman died in 1950 in California.
Brigman's photographs frequently focused on the female nude, dramatically situated in natural landscapes or trees. Many of her photos were taken in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in carefully selected locations and featuring elaborately staged poses. Brigman often featured herself as the subject of her images. After shooting the photographs, she would extensively touch up the negatives with paints, pencil, or superimposition.
Brigman's deliberately counter-cultural images suggested bohemianism and female liberation. Her work challenged the establishment's cultural norms and defied convention, instead embracing pagan antiquity. The raw emotional intensity and barbaric strength of her photos contrasted with the carefully calculated and composed images of Stieglitz and other modern photographers.

ANNE W. BRIGMAN. The Heart of the Storm , 1912

Several regional Pictorialist groups were primarily concerned with landscape imagery. Many members of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia—a venerable club organized in 1862 and the first to actively promote artistic photography—drew nourishment from the earlier tradition of landscape imagery supported by The Philadelphia Photographer (see Chapter 3), as well as from the Naturalistic concepts of Emerson. Individual members, among them Robert S. Redfield, Henry Troth, and Woodbridge endeavored to achieve "unity of style and harmony of effect" and to subordinate description to artistic purpose in subtly modulated landscapes printed on platinum (pi. no. 390). In New York State, another such group, the Buffalo Camera Club (organized 1888) also displayed a reverential attitude toward nature. Asserting the need for attention to "harmonious composition and well-managed lights and shadows,"31 their handling of light and atmosphere, exemplified in founding member Wilbur H. Porter-field's September Morning, 1906, (pi. no. 391), projects a melancholy mood similar to that in the tonalist paintings of Inncss, Ranger, and Alexander Wyant.

Photographers in these groups and others working on their own in the same tradition often were not considered first-rate by the mentors of Pictorialism, in part because they tended to cling to outdated attitudes regarding theme and treatment. For instance, Leigh Richmond Miner, instructor of art at Virginia's Hampton Institute around the turn of the century, viewed the black farmers and fisher-men living on the islands off the coast of South Carolina with reverence and cast his many images of them in a heroic mold. Other photographers of Southern rural life among them Clarence B. Moore, a member of the Photo-graphic Society of Philadelphia, and Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr., a well-known New York Pictorialist, transformed rural people into ingratiating genre types, emphasizing industriousness and nobility of character through their choices of lighting and pose. Remnants of this approach lingered into the 1930s, as can be seen in portraits made by Prentice Hall Polk, official photographer at Tuskeegee Institute (pi. no. 392), and by New York portraitist Doris Ulmann, who idealized the inhabitants of the Appalachian highlands where she photographed in the late 1920s and '30s (pi. no. 393).

Similar picturesque qualities characterize many of the portraits made by Arnold Gcnthe of the inhabitants of San Francisco's Chinese quarter see Chapter 6), except that a number of his images, though seen through the haze of a romanticizing vision, have a refreshing spontaneity that distinguishes them from more statically posed rural genre images. Genthe was a member of the California Camera Club, which was organized in 1890 in San Francisco and with 400 or so members, was for many years the primary enclave of art photography on the West Coast. Although members of the group, including Laura Adams Armer, Anne W. Brigman, William Dassonville, and Oscar Maurer, participated in Salon exhibitions on the East Coast and in Europe, and several became members of the Photo-Seces¬sion, no cohesive style of California photography emerged.

Instead, the flat massing of tonal areas, seen in Armer's Chinatown (pi. no. 394) and in many other examples from this region, seems related to the pervasive interest in the arts of Japan that affected photography everywhere in the United States during the last decade of the 19th century. Idealization was the keynote of the extensive pictorial document of American Indian life undertaken in 1899 by Edward S. Curtis. While camera studies of Indian life were being made at the time by a number of photographers, Curtis (funded in part by the financier J. P. Morgan) may be considered with the Pictorialists because he selected for his portrayal of the "vanishing race" picturesque individuals—mainly women and elders—and on occasion even provided them with appealing costumes. He composed and cropped scenes carefully and printed on platinum paper or by gravure, eventually producing 20 volumes and a like number of portfolios of text and images entitled The North American Indian. The photographer's endeavor to conjure up a rhapsodical vision of American Indian experience, as well as to make an ethnographically correct document, is exemplified in The Vanishing Race (pi. no. 196). His work, which briefly found a market soon after the turn of the century, appealed to Americans who had begun to regard Native Americans as an "exotic spectacle" to be promoted as a tourist activity. However, until 1970, this portrayal had for nearly half a century remained unknown to the photographic community and the public alike.


390. LOUISE DESHONG WOODBRIDGE. Outlet On the Lake, 1885.
Platinum print, 1898. Janet Lehr, Inc., New York.

391. WILBUR H. PORTERFIELD. September Morning, 1906.
Gelatin silver print. Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo, N.Y.

392. PRENTICE HALL POLK. The Boss, 1933.
Gelatin silver print

393. DORIS ULMANN. Untitled, c. 1925-34.
Gravure print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, III.

DORIS ULMANN  (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Doris Ulmann (May 29, 1882-August 28, 1934) was an American photographer, best known for her portraits of the people of Appalachia made between 1928 and 1934.
Ulmann was a native of New York City, the daughter of Bernhard and Gertrude (Mass) Ulmann. Educated in public school--at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, a socially liberal organization that championed individual worth regardless of ethnic background or economic condition--and Columbia University, she intended to become a teacher of psychology. Her interest in photography was at first a hobby, but after 1918 she devoted herself to the art professionally. She was a member of the Pictorial Photographers of America. Ulmann documented the rural people of the South, particularly the mountain peoples of Appalachia and the Gullahs of the Sea Islands, with a profound respect for her sitters and an ethnographer's eye for culture. Ulmann was trained as a pictorialist and graduated from the Clarence H. White School of Modern Photography. Other students of the school who went on to become notable photographers include Margaret Bourke-White, Anne Brigman, Dorothea Lange, Paul Outerbridge, and Karl Struss. Her work was exhibited in various New York galleries, and published in Theatre Arts Monthly, Mentor, Scribner's Magazine, and Survey Graphic. Ulmann was married for a time to Dr. Charles H. Jaeger, a fellow Pictorialist photographer and an orthopedic surgeon on the staff of Columbia University Medical School and a likely connection for her 1920 Hoeber publication, The faculty of the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University in the City of New York: twenty-four portraits This was followed in 1922 by the publication of her Book of Portraits of the Medical Faculty of the Johns Hopkins University; the 1925 A Portrait Gallery of American Editors, and in 1933, Roll, Jordan Roll, the text by Julia Peterkin. The fine art edition of Roll, Jordan Roll is considered to be one of the most beautiful books ever produced.
In an interview with Dale Warren of Bookman, Doris Ulmann referred to her particular interest in portraits. "The faces of men and women in the street are probably as interesting as literary faces, but my particular human angle leads me to men and women who write. I am not interested exclusively in literary faces, because I have been more deeply moved by some of my mountaineers than by any literary person. A face that has the marks of having lived intensely, that expresses some phase of life, some dominant quality or intellectual power, constitutes for me an interesting face. For this reason the face of an older person, perhaps not beautiful in the strictest sense, is usually more appealing than the face of a younger person who has scarcely been touched by life."
Ulmann's early work includes a series of portraits of prominent intellectuals, artists and writers: William Butler Yeats, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Sinclair Lewis, Lewis Mumford, Joseph Wood Krutch, Martha Graham, Anna Pavlova, Paul Robeson, and Lillian Gish. In 1932 Ulmann began her most important series, assembling documentation of Appalachian folk arts and crafts for Allen Eaton's landmark 1937 book, Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. From 1927, Ulmann was assisted on her rural travels by John Jacob Niles, a musician and folklorist who collected ballads while Ulmann photographed. In failing health, she suffered a collapse in August of 1934 while working near Ashville, North Carolina and returned to New York. Doris Ulmann died August 28, 1934.
Upon Ulmann's death, a foundation she had established took custody of her images. Allen Eaton, John Jacob Niles, Olive Dame Campbell (of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina), Ulmann's brother-in-law Henry L. Necarsulmer, and Berea schoolteacher Helen Dingman were named trustees. Samuel H. Lifshey, a New York commercial photographer, developed the negatives Ulmann had exposed during her final trip, and then made proof prints from the vast archive of more than 10,000 glass plate negatives. (Lifshey also developed the 2,000 exposed negatives from Ulmann's last expedition, and produced the prints for Eaton's book.) The proof prints were mounted into albums, which were annotated by John Jacob Niles and Allen Eaton, chair of the foundation and another noted folklorist, to indicate names of the sitters and dates of capture.
The primary repository of Ulmann's work is at the University of Oregon Libraries' Special Collections. The Doris Ulmann collection, PH038, includes 2,739 silver gelatin glass plate negatives, 304 original matted prints, and 79 albums (containing over 10,000 Lifshey proof prints) assembled by the Doris Ulmann Foundation between 1934 and 1937. The silver gelatin glass plate negatives are the only known remaining Ulmann negatives. Of the 304 matted photographs, approximately half are platinum prints that were mounted and signed by Ulmann; the others are silver gelatin prints developed by Lifshey. Additional collections can be found at Berea College in Kentucky (primarily images taken in the vicinity of Berea) and the New York Historical Society (primarily of prominent New Yorkers). As art objects, her photographs are also part of many museum collections including the Smithsonian and the J. Paul Getty Museum. Doris Ulmann was an extremely private person and left no documentation other than her images.


DORIS ULMANN. Laborer's Hands, c. 1925


394. LAURA ADAMS ARMER. Chinatown, c. 1908.
Gelatin silver print. California Historical Society Library, San Francisco.

The Photo-Secession

With adherents throughout the nation who embraced a varicty of approaches and a wide latitude of standards with regard to artistic photography, the Pictonalist movement was spread out and amorphous during the last years of the 19th century. Cohesiveness. direction, and exclusivity followed the formation in 1902 of the Photo-Secession. Organized by Stieglitz to compel "the serious recognition of photography as an additional medium of pictorial expression" and of himself as a prime figure, it grew- out of works selected and sent abroad in 1900 by Day and Stieglitz, both of whom were eager to demonstrate the high quality of aesthetic photography in the United States. Nevertheless, although Day's exhibition, "The New American School of Photography," had been exceptionally well-received in London and Paris, by 1902 he was forced to recognize that Stieglitz had emerged as leader of a vanguard movement that he baptized the Photo-Secession. Eventually numbering some 100 members, the founders included John G. Bullock, of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, Eugene, Kasebier, Joseph Keilcy—an important critic and publicist for the movement—Edward Steichcn, and Clarence H. White. All were prominent in organizing and showing work in the national and international exhibitions of art photography held around 1900. While constituted as a national body, the Photo-Secession was most active in New York City, where Stieglitz served as editor of its publication, Camera Work, and presided over 291.

The formidable role played by Stieglitz in the establishment of this elite wing of American Pictorialism has received ample attention, but the active participation of Steichen, who found and installed the exhibition space, designed the cover and publicity for Camera Work, and initiated contacts with the French graphic artists whose works eventually formed an important part of Secession exhibits and publicatons, is less well known. Steichen's own work in photography during this early period (before he gave up painting) displayed a mastery of manipulative techniques that enabled him to use gum and pigment processes as well as platinum to suggest subtle nuances with a distinctive flair (pi. no. 336). Because his later work in advertising photography had an even more signal effect on American photography, his contribution will be discussed more fully in Chapter 10.

Another of the founders, White (see Profile) was active in aesthetic photography (pi. no. 395) first in the Midwest and after 1906 in New York, where he turned to teaching both as a way of making a living and of imparting to others his profound belief in the expressive potential of the medium. Involved primarily with light and its symbolism, he used it to invest ordinary domestic scenes with subtlety, tenderness, and a genteel quality similar to that found in the work of American painters William Merritt Chase. John Singer Sargent, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
In the main, Photo-Secession members produced landscapes, figure studies, and portraits—themes favored by Pictorialists everywhere—but a small group that included Coburn, Paul Haviland, Steichen, Stieglitz, and Karl Struss undertook to portray the city—heretofore an "untrodden field" in artistic photography." In common with their contemporaries, the painters of the New York Realist school (The Eight, later known popularly as the Ashcan painters), these photographers found their subjects in the bridges, skyscrapers, and construction sites they regarded as affirmations of the vitality of urban life during the opening years of the 20th century. The Flatiron building, a looming prow-shaped structure completed in 1902, was seen as a symbol of power and culture—"a new Parthenon"—in images by Coburn, Haviland, Steichen, and Stieglitz. The harbor, with traffic that brought new workers to the continent and day workers to the city, inspired Coburn, Haviland, and Stieglitz. Brooklyn Bridge and other East River crossings still under construction were photographed by Steichen, Struss (pi. no. 396), and Coburn (pi. no. 397), who actually considered these structures metaphors for the conquest of nature by human intelligence. Coburn in particular regarded the camera as the only instrument, and photography the only medium, capable of encapsulating the constantly changing grandeur of the modern city. As a younger Secessionist—-he was twenty-two when he joined in 1904—his willingness to experi¬ment with a variety of themes that included portraiture, urban views (pi. no. 398), and industrial scenes animated the Secession's activities during its early years despite his fairly regular travels between the United States and England. A consummate printer in platinum and gum. Coburn also worked in gravure, setting up his own press in London in 1909 and experimenting extensively with Autochrome. In spite of the brilliance of his early work and the avant-garde nature of the abstractions he made in 1917 (see Chapter 9), after World War I he gave up serious involvement with the medium to pursue other interests. In terms of vitality and influence, the American Pictorialist movement expired during the second decade of the 20th century despite efforts by several Pictorialists, among them White and Coburn, to keep an organization and periodical afloat. The Photo-Secession had from the start planned to show other visual art along with photographs at its gallery, but, following their introduction in 1907, camera images began to play a less important role in both the exhibition schedule of 291 and in Camera Work, largely as a result of Sticglitz's conviction that little creative work was being produced in photography. This view was strengthened by criticism (by Hartmann and others) of the camera images shown at the Dresden Exposition of 1909 and in the Albright Gallery in Buffalo in 1910—the last large-scale exhibition of Pictorialist photography sponsored by the Secession. Between 1911 and 1916, only three photographic shows were held at 291: portraits and still lifes by Adolf de Meyer (pi. no. 399), a German-born photographer who was just beginning a fashionable career in London; Stieglitz's own work, timed to coincide with the Armory Show of modern art in 1913; and the last exhibition of photographs before the gallery closed—the work of Paul Strand in 1916, which included early soft-focus landscapes as well as cityscapes. The choice of these startling "candid" portraits of New York street people and of the virtually abstract studies by Strand for the final issue of Camera Work signaled the shift in sensibility that was taking place on an international scale at the time.

In Europe, most of the aesthetic movement, already by 1910 a victim of organizational dissension and prewar malaise, was abruptly terminated by the first World War, which put an end to the leisurely life that had provided much of its impetus and thematic material. After 1914, individual European photographers were scattered and isolated, with artistic interchange in virtually all media difficult. Even before the hostilities, however, the new aesthetic concepts that had become visible in the other visual arts began to influence photographers. In addition to the reaction against extensive hand-manipulation of the print, which had been in the air for a number of years, some photographers, among them Dubreuil and Kuehn, began to introduce greater definition and to deal with form in the more abstract fashion visible in Kuehn's Artist's Umbrella of 1910 (pi. no. 400), a work in which the view from above converts the picture plane into a two-dimensional design. A new interest in realism also emerged to herald the concern with straight photography and modernist style that would engage the next generation of photographers.

Pictorialism was an instrument that enabled the aesthetic photograph to be regarded as a persuasive expression of personal temperament and choice. Despite misguided at-tempts to emulate traditional paintings and works of graphic art, despite disagreements about the qualities that give the photographic prints their unique character, and despite many images that now seem hackneyed and uninspired, a body of forceful work was created under the banner of aesthetic photography. Both the seriousness of purpose and the efforts by the movement to erase the division between the way critics and the public viewed images made entirely by hand and those produced by a machine have continued to be vital concepts that still engage photographers and graphic artists alike.

395. CLARENCE H. WHITE. The Orchard, 1902.
Gravure print. Private Collection.


(see collection)


396. KARL STRUSS. LOW Tide, Arverne, New York, 1912.
Gelatin silver print. Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, Tokyo.

397. ALVIN LANGDON COBURN. Brooklyn Bridge, 1910-12.
Gravure print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.

ALVIN LANGDON COBURN  (see collection)

(b Boston, MA, 11 June 1882; d Colwyn Bay, 23 Oct 1966). American photographer, active also in Britain. He was greatly influenced by his mother, a keen amateur photographer, and began taking photographs at the age of eight. He travelled to England in 1899 with his mother and his cousin, F. Holland Day. Coburn developed substantial contacts in the photography world in New York and London, and in 1900 he took part in the New School of American Pictorial Photography exhibition (London, Royal Phot. Soc.), which Day organized. In 1902 he was elected a member of the Photo-Secession, founded by Alfred Stieglitz to raise the standards of pictorial photography. A year later he was elected a member of the Brotherhood of the LINKED RING in Britain. 

398. ALVTN LANGDON COBURN. The Octopus, 1912.
Platinum print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

399. ADOLF DE MEYER. Water Lilies, 1906.
Platinum print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933.

ADOLF DE MEYER  (see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Adolf de Meyer (1868-1949) was a Paris born photographer who became world famous for his elegant photographic portraits of famous people. Born to a German father and Scottish mother, he was educated in Dresden, and in 1893 joined the Royal Photographic Society. In 1899, he married Olga Caracciolo, whose godfather was Edward VII. It was a marriage of convenience more than love, as de Meyer was homosexual, and his wife Olga was bisexual. Olga was involved for some time, from 1901 to 1905, in a lesbian affair with wealthy Winnaretta Singer, heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune. Cecil Beaton once dubbed Adolf de Meyer "the Debussy of photography".

Edward VII's relation to Olga is disputed. There are some that have claimed he was, in truth, her father, having had an affair with her mother. However, there is little truth to that claim, and at most he laid claim to being her "godfather". At Edward VII's request, much due to his association with de Meyer's wife, Olga, Adolf was made baron by Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. In 1914, on the verge of financial ruin due to World War I, he and Olga moved to New York City, where he became a photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. In 1922, de Meyer accepted the offer to become the Harper's Bazaar chief photographer. He returned to Paris, and spent the next sixteen years there. On the eve of World War II, de Meyer returned to the United States, and found that he was a relic in the face of the rising modernism of his art. Today, few of his prints survive, most having been destroyed during World War II.

ADOLF DE MEYER. Mary Pickford


400. HEINRICH KUEHN. Artist's Umbrella, before 1910.
Gravure print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.

HEINRICH KUEHN  (see collection)

(1866 - 1944)

German photographer and scientist, doctor of medicine. Counted among the most important representatives of the international Pictorialist movement around 1900. Kühn was also an author of technical literature and temporary operator of a school for artistic photography. After relocating to Innsbruck from his hometown Dresden, Kühn devoted himself to photography completely around 1888. After 1895, close co-operation with Hans Watzek (1848 - 1903) and Hugo Henneberg (1863 - 1918) in the Austrian photographer's group "Trifolium" or "Kleeblatt". The combination gum bichromate printing, which Kühn developed around 1896, was considered an adequate process for the communication of the aesthetics of Pictorialism, which so closely followed a painterly style. As late as 1926, Kühn introduced the soft-focus lens "Imagon" to achieve an "artistic blurring" in the photographic image. After 1907, he also experimented with colour photography, particularly with the Autochrome process of the Lumière brothers.

HEINRICH KUEHN. The Kuehn Children, Tyrol, 1912


Alfred Stieglitz
  (see collection)

Alfred Stieglitz proclaimed his belief in the uniqueness of his native heritage in a credo written for an exhibition of his work in 1921: "I was bom in Hoboken. I am an American. Photography is my passion. The search for truth my obsession."'6 Nevertheless, as a body, his images suggest a complexity of influences and sources of which the American component was at first the least marked. The oldest of six children of a part-Jewish German family that had emigrated to the United States in 1849, Stieglitz spent his youth in a comfortable milieu that placed unusual emphasis on education, culture, and attainment. Taken to Germany in 1881 to complete his education, he enrolled in a course in photochemistry given by the eminent Dr. Hermann Wilhelm Vogel; from then on he was absorbed mainly by photography and by other visual art, although he continued an interest in science, music, and literature. Sun'sRays—Paula, Berlin (pi. no. 401), a study made in Berlin by Stieglitz in 1889, reveals a fascination with the role of light and with the replicative possibilities of photography, as well as an understanding of how to organize forms to express feeling.

After almost ten years abroad, during which his ability as a photographer had become recognized, Stieglitz returned to New York City in 1890 and became a partner in the Photochrome Engraving Company. He soon found himself more interested in campaigns to promote the recognition of photography as a means of artistic expression, working at first as editor of the journal American Amateur Photographer, then through the Camera Club of New York and its periodical Camera Notes, and finally through the Photo-Secession and Camera Work, which he published and edited from 1903 to 1917. Besides organizing and judging national exhibitions of Pictorialist photography, Stieglitz presided, until 1917, over 291, the Photo-Secession gallery, where, along with Stcichen and, later, with Paul Haviland and Marius de Zayas, he helped awaken the American public and critics to modern European movements in the visual arts. He was in contact for a brief period in 1915 with the New York Dada movement through the journal 291 and the Modern Gallery.

In his development as a photographer, Stieglitz began to draw upon the urban scene for his subjects shortly after his return to New York in 1890 (pi. no. 312). At the time, his motifs were considered inappropriate for artistic treatment in photography even though Realist and Impressionist painters in Europe had been dealing with similar material for over 40 years. As his personal style evolved, the influence of German fin-de-siecle painting, of the Japanese woodblock, and of Symbolist and Cubist (pi. no. 402) currents became visibly interwoven into coherently structured and moving images that seem to embody the reality of their time. Following the closing of the gallery and journal in 1917, Stieglitz turned full attention to his own work—a many-faceted portrait of his wife-to-be, the painter Georgia O'Keeffe. In the early 1920s, he undertook what he called Equivalents (pi. no. 403)—images of clouds and sky made to demonstrate, he claimed, that in visual art, form, and not specific subject matter, conveys emotional and psychological meaning. Another series from later years consists of views of New York skyscrapers taken from the window of his room in the Shciton Hotel (pi. no. 404), which incorporate abstract patterns of light and shadow that express the fascination and the loathing that he had come to feel for the city.

Feeling incomplete without a gallery or publication, between 1917 and 1925 Stieglitz used rooms at the Anderson Galleries to promote the work of a circle of American modernists in painting and photography that comprised, besides himself, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, O'Keeffe, and Strand. The Intimate Gallery opened in 1925, lasted four years, and was followed by An American Place, which endured until his death in 19+6. Aside from exhibitions of his own work, only four of photography were held between 1925 and 1946, suggesting that his interest in the medium had become parochial.

Stieglitz's career spanned the transition from the Victorian to the modern world, and his sensibilities reflected this amplitude of experience. His creative contribution, summed up by Theodore Dreiser in 1899 as a "desire to do new things" in order to express "the sentiment and tender beauty in subjects previously thought devoid of charm," was conjoined to a great sense of mission. While not unique, his efforts to improve the way photographs were presented at exhibitions and reproduced in periodicals were notably effective in the campaign for the recognition of the photograph as an art object, while his openness to new sensibilities enabled him to introduce Americans to European modernism and to the avant-garde styles of native artists. In both roles—as expressive photographer and impresario—he probably has had a more profound influence on the course of aesthetic photography in America than any other single individual.


401. ALFRED STIEGLITZ. Sun's Rays—Paula, Berlin, 1889.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

4O2. ALFRED STIEGLITZ. The Steerage, 1907.
Gravure print. Private Collection.

see also: Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage, 1907

403. ALFRED STIEGLITZ. Equivalent, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

404. ALFRED STIEGLITZ. From the Shelton Westward-New York, 1931-32.
Gelatin silver print. Philadelphia Museum at Art; lent by Dorothy Norman.

CLARENCE H. WHITE  (see collection)

Clarence H. White may be considered the archetypal Pictorialist photographer of the United States. Neither flamboyant in personality nor bohemian in taste, he emerged from a background of hardworking midwestern provincialism to create works of unusual artistic sensitivity and sweet compassion, with the people and places of his intimate surroundings as subjects. His best images, among them King Toss (pi. no. 405), reveal a perceptive appreciation of the special qualities of domesticity and feminine activities, themes that also attracted a number of the painters of the time, including William Merritt Chase and John Singer Sargent (pi. no. 406). Despite his preference for genre and allegorical subjects. White's camera images rarely are hack¬neyed or sentimental. His receptivity to a variety of aesthetic influences—the art of Japan, the Pre-Raphaclites, Whistler, and Art Nouveau—which had reached middle America in contemporary magazine illustration, may ac-count for the captivating freshness of his vision.

Working full-time as an accountant for a wholesale grocery firm, White still found opportunities for his own photography and time to promote Pictorialism in the Newark (Ohio) Camera Club. Shortly before 1900, he joined with Day, Kascbicr, and Stieglitz in organizing and jurying the major American exhibitions of Pictorialist photography. During his lifetime, he showed work in more than 40 national and international exhibitions, frequently garnering top honors and critical acclaim. In 1906, two years after leaving his job to devote himself entirely to his medium, he moved his family to New York City in the hope that it might be more possible to earn a living in photography. A year later, White began to teach, first at Columbia University, then at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and finally at his own Clarence White School of Photography, which he founded in 1914. Among his celebrated students were Margaret Bourke-White, Anton Bruehl, Laura Gilpin, Dorothea Lange, Paul Outerbridge, Ralph Steiner, and Doris Ulmann, attesting to the marked influence of this school on many photographers of the next generation.

During White's first years in New York, he and Stieglitz collaborated on a series of nude studies, exemplified by a sensuous image of Miss Thompson (pi. no. 407), but on the whole, White's creativity did not flourish in the city, because of the time and energy required to pursue a teaching career and manage a school. Although his contributions to Pictorialism were recognized by Stieglitz when the latter assigned him a special gallery in the 1910 "International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography" in Buffalo, the relationship between the two started to deteriorate as Stieglitz identified White with Pictorialist themes and styles he now considered repetitive and insipid. In 1916, White joined with other disaffected Secessionists to form The Pictorial Photographers of America, hoping thereby to support aesthetic photography while keeping alive the group idea, which to his mind had been one of the appealing aspects of the Photo-Secession.

Toward the 1920s, White's images began to reflect some of the changes in outlook occasioned by American awareness of modernist trends in art, but in 1925, before he could integrate the new vision into his own refined sensibility, he died while accompanying a student expedition to Mexico. With their concentration on light and atmosphere, their carefully realized tonal and spatial tensions, and an authentic sense of domestic grace, White's photographs embody the tonalist style in American Pictorialism.

405. CLARENCE H. WHITE. Ring Toss, 1899.
Platinum print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

406. JOHN SINGER SARGENT. The Daughters of Edward D. Boit, 1882. Oil on canvas.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; gift of Mary Louise Boit, Jane Hubbart Boit,
and Julia Overing Boit, in memory of their father.

407. CLARENCE H. WHITE and ALFRED STIEGLITZ. Miss Thompson, 1907.
Gravure print. Private Collection.

HEINRICH KUEHN  (see collection)

Both the career and imagery of Heinrich Kuehn may be said to personify the ideals of Pictorialism in central Europe. According to a modern critic, his "works represent a clear expression of the aspirations of ... [the] period," which were to "confirm the artistic quality of photography." Kuehn's sensitivity to the expressive aspects of composition, light, and form, as well as his deep involvement with a wide variety of photographic printing processes, may seem unusual in view of his background in medicine and microscopic photography, but the 1891 exhibition in Vienna of the work of The Linked Ring appears to have redirected his interest from science to aesthetics. On joining the Wiener Kamera Klub in 1894 after moving to Innsbruck, Austria, from his birthplace Dresden, Kuehn formed a friendship with Hugo Henneberg, a club member who introduced him and Hans Watzck to the gum printing methods used by Demachy in Paris. From about 1898 to 1903, these three photographers worked and exhibited together, signing their images with the clover leaf monogram that invited the name Trifolium  Kleeblatt. After Watzek's death in 1902 and Henneberg's shift of interest to printmaking in 1905, Kuehn continued to organize photographic events, to work on his own experiments with gum, and to publish technical articles. His contacts with British and American Pictorialists, Stieglitz in particular, now provided the inspiration he formerly had de-rived from the Kleeblatt. A meeting in Bavaria in 1907 with Eugene, Stieglitz, and Steichen (pi. no. 408) led to experiments by all four photographers with the new Autochrome color plates. Around 1906, Kuehn began also to associate with members of the Vienna Secession and the founders of Wiener Werkstatte (Vienna Workshop), easily integrating Viennese Art Nouveau into his personal approach Kuehn's themes and motifs reflect a tranquil middle-class domestic existence, not entirely dissimilar from the provincial small-town life that inspired White's most moving images. In portraits of family and friends (pi. no. 349), spacious interiors, and gracious still lifes, as well as in occasional genre scenes, he was profoundly concerned, as was White, with light and with decorative design. Besides the influences of Art Nouveau, one can also discern in Kuehn's photographs the impact of fin-de-siecle European painting, in particular that of the Germans Max Liebermann and Franz von Lenbach. A suggestion of the new concepts with which the visual arts would be concerned began to surface in Kuehn's crisper delineations of form around 1910 (pi. no. 400), but on the whole his stylistic and thematic approach changed very little, and while aesthetic photography was supplanted in the 1920s and '30s by Die Neue Sacblicbkeit (The New Objectivity), Kuehn, unlike his friend and associate Stieglitz, seems to have been unwilling or unable to embrace these new perceptions even though he continued to photograph and write on into the 1930s.

408. FRANK EUGENE. Frank Eugene, Alfred Stieglitz, Heinrich Kuehn, and Edward Steichen.
Gum bichromate print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.

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