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Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen, photographed by
Fred Holland Day
Birth name Eduard Jean Steichen
Born March 27, 1879(1879-03-27)
Bivange, Luxembourg
Died March 25, 1973 (aged 93)
West Redding, Connecticut
Nationality American
Field Painting, Photography

Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973), born in Bivange, Luxembourg, was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface to the magazine. In partnership with Steiglitz, Steichen opened the "Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession", which was eventually known as 291, after its address. This gallery presented among the first American exhibitions of (among others) Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Constantin Brancusi. Serving in the US Army in World War I (and the US Navy in the Second World War), he commanded significant units contributing to military photography. He was a photographer for the Condé Nast magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair from 1923-1938, and concurrently worked for many advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson. During these years Steichen was regarded as the best known and highest paid photographer in the world. Steichen directed the war documentary The Fighting Lady, which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary. After World War II he was Director of the Department of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art until 1962. While at MoMA, in 1955 he curated and assembled the exhibit The Family of Man. The exhibit eventually traveled to sixty-nine countries, was seen by nine million people, and sold two and a half million copies of a companion book. In 1962, Steichen hired John Szarkowski to be his successor at the Museum of Modern Art.

Contents

Early Life

His family moved to the United States in 1881 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1900. Having established himself as a fine art painter in the beginning of the 20th century, Steichen assumed the pictorialist approach in photography and proved himself a master of it.

Partnership with Stieglitz

Steichen met Alfred Stieglitz in 1900, on his first trip to New York City from his home in Milwaukee.[1] In that first meeting, Steiglitz expressed praise for Steichen's background in painting, and also bought three photographic prints of Steichen's.[2]

In 1902, when Stieglitz was formulating what would become Camera Work, he asked Steichen to design the logo for the magazine, with a custom typeface.[3]

In 1905, Steichen helped create the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession with Stieglitz. After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into fashion photography. Steichen's 1928 photo of actress Greta Garbo is recognized as one of the definitive portraits of Garbo.

Later Work

The initial publication of Ansel Adams' image Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico was in U.S. Camera Annual 1943, after being selected by Steichen, who was serving as "photo judge" for the publication.[4] This gave Moonrise an audience before its first formal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944. [5]

During World War II, he served as Director of the Naval Photographic Institute. His war documentary The Fighting Lady won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary. After the war, Steichen served until 1962 as the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man in 1955, a vast exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries. Steichen's brother-in-law, Carl Sandburg, wrote a "Prologue" for the exhibition catalog. As had been Steichen's wish, the exhibition was donated to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is now permanently housed in the Luxembourg town of Clervaux. [6]

On December 6, 1963, Steichen was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson.

A show of early color photographs by Steichen was held at Mudam Luxembourg from July 14 to September 3, 2007.[7]

The Pond-Moonlight

Steichen's The Pond--Moonlight

In February 2006, a print of Steichen's early pictorialist photograph, The Pond--Moonlight (1904), sold for what was then the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction, U.S. $2.9 million. (See List of most expensive photographs).

Steichen took the photograph in Mamaroneck, New York near the home of his friend, art critic Charles Caffin. The photo features a wooded area and pond, with moonlight appearing between the trees and reflecting on the pond. While the print appears to be a color photograph, the first true color photographic process, the autochrome process, was not available until 1907. Steichen created the impression of color by manually applying layers of light-sensitive gums to the paper. In 1904, only a few photographers were using this experimental approach. Only three known versions of the Pond-Moonlight are still in existence and, as a result of the hand-layering of the gums, each is unique. In addition to the auctioned print, the other two versions are held in museum collections. The extraordinary sale price of the print is, in part, attributable to its one-of-a-kind character and to its rarity.[8]

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ Niven, Penelope (1997). Steichen: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter. ISBN 0-517-59373-4, p. 74
  2. ^ Niven (1997), p. 75
  3. ^ Roberts, Pam (1997) "Alfred Stieglitz, 291 Gallery and Camera Work," contained in Stieglitz, Alfred (1997) Camera Work: The Complete Illustrations 1903-1917 Köln: Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-8072-8, p. 17
  4. ^ Alinder, Mary Street (1996). Ansel Adams: a Biography. New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0-8050-5835-4, p. 192
  5. ^ Alinder (1996), p. 193
  6. ^ Luxembourg Tourist Office in London - Clervaux
  7. ^ Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, v3.0
  8. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Rare photo sets $2.9m sale record

References

  • DePietro, Anne Cohen; Goley, Mary Anne (2003). Eduard Steichen: Four Paintings in Context. Hollis Taggart Galleries.
  • DePietro, Anne Cohen (1985). The Paintings of Eduard Steichen. Huntington, NY: The Heckscher Museum. LCCN 85-080519 (Exhibition Catalog).
  • Mitchell, Emily (2007). The Last Summer of the World. Norton. (A fictional narrative about Steichen.)
  • Niven, Penelope (1997). Steichen: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter. ISBN 0-517-59373-4.
  • Sandeen, Eric J. (1995). Picturing an Exhibition: The Family of Man and 1950's America. University of New Mexico Press.
  • Smith, Joel (1999). Edward Steichen: The Early Years. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Steichen, Edward (1955). The Family of Man: The Greatest Photographic Exhibition of All Time. New York: Maco Pub. Co for the Museum of Modern Art.

External links

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