Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stieglitz: The Godfather of Photography

Writing two weeks ago about Mabel Dodge Luhan (Archives:January, 2011) and last week about Pamela Colman Smith made me think more about the role of Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) in that early Modern era.

Based on receiving many a quizzical look when I mention Stieglitz, I'd have to say that unless you are a historian of art and photography, his fame seems to be diminishing. It's hard to know why since he was so good at his profession. Furthermore, it was Stieglitz who was largely responsible for the promotion of photography as an art form.

You see, photography was to the late 19th and early 20th centuries what digital art is to the 21st century. The question was and is: Is it an art form or manipulation of something that was invented by someone else? Stiegltiz answered the question by placing photography alongside paintings in his New York galleries.

Stieglitz elevated photography to a accepted medium of fine art. He was also a tireless promoter who influenced photographers, sculptors and painters - including his own wife, Georgia O' Keeffe.

Insofar as his own talent in concerned, here are a sampling of photos taken by him. (Please click on image to enlarge.) It seems that these alone would be cause to remember him. (The hands are those of his wife, Georgia O' Keeffe.)


  1. I don't know how he photographed so that you can actually see the blowing snow. I am familiar with his stunning photos of O'Keeffe. They feel as if he photographed with the eyes of a lover. SM

  2. Mine would have been one of the quizzical looks. Do you suppose he was lost in the shadow of his very talented wife? If so, it's an interesting case of gender reversal. I especially like the photo of the back-lit clouds. Very dramatic. sz

  3. I forgot to mention that his photo of O'Keeffe sold at auction for over 1 million.... something like 1.3 million - highest ever paid for a photo. Makes his diminishing fame even more puzzling. I think SZ is right he's probably been overshadowed by his wife. RA

  4. Beautiful photos. I've always admired Stieglitz, though have the impression that he and O'Keeffe had a different aesthetic sensibility. For example, his medium was black and white; her's was color (did he ever work in color?). I don't think she overshadowed, so much as outshone him. -b. (having just returned from land of sun)

  5. Beautiful pictures! KM

  6. Alfred shouldn't be forgotten...........I'm glad you featured him in your blog. What am amazing man he was and his photos are beautiful!! thanks again for the blog and more knowledge about the arts. Connie