American photographer Alfred Stieglitz was considered
by his peers to be one of the most important promoters of art
during his time. In addition to his own work, for which he used
the natural elements of his subjects such as steam, rain and
snow to achieve his desired effect of making his photographs
artistic, he also discovered and promoted other photographers
Photographer Alfred Stieglitz
Stieglitz was also famous for his affair and eventual
marriage to painter Georgia
O'Keeffe, of whom he had taken many photographs in the nude.
He was also instrumental in promoting O'Keeffe's work.
Stieglitz was born January 1, 1864 in Hoboken,
New Jersey. His family moved to Germany 1881, where Stieglitz
studied mechanical engineering in Berlin at Technische Hochschule.
There, he was artistically and culturally influenced by scientist
and photography researcher Hermann Wilhelm Vogel. The German
artists Wilhelm Hasemann and Adolf von Menzel who introduced
Stieglitz to the idea of nature directly influencing art.
Stieglitz bought a camera and began traveling
throughout Europe, photographing the countryside and its people.
He also started writing, and in 1887 wrote, "A Word or
Two about Amateur Photography in Germany." At this time,
he won first place for his photo, 'The Last Joke, Bellagio,"
for a contest by the British magazine Amateur Photographer.
Soon his work was being published in British and German magazines.
After his sister Flora's death in 1890 he returned
to New York to be with his family, who had moved back in 1884.
In New York, with his father's financial
help, he started the Photochrome Engraving Company, and
continued to write for art publications as well as win
several awards for his photography, including at the exhibition
put on by the Society of Amateur Photographers of New
York, Photographic Society of Philadelphia and the Boston
He soon became famous for his work, and in 1893
he accepted a co-editing position for The American Amateur Photographer
magazine. Two of his most well known photographs, "Winter,
Fifth Avenue" and "The Terminal," were taken
with a 4x5 plate film camera made by Folmer and Schwing.
His marriage in 1893 to Emmeline Obermeyer, who
was nine years younger than Stieglitz, ended when she found
out about his affair with O'Keeffe, whom he met in 1916.
Through a group known as the Linked Ring, Stieglitz
continued to promote photography as an art. In 1896 he achieved
his goal of merging the Society of Amateur Photographers and
the New York Camera Club into one club, the Camera Club of New
He continued his own photography, creating the
portfolio, "Picturesque Bits of New York and Other Studies,"
and exhibiting his work in Europe and the U.S.
With the Photo-Secession exhibition in 1902, inspired
by a Munich artists group that included Edvard Munch and Henri
Toulouse-Lautrec, and with the journal, Camera Work, Stieglitz
broke from the authority of the Camera Club.
However, the strains of his work caused him to
collapse from exhaustion, which soon became a recurring theme.
In 1907, Stieglitz's successful campaign of artist
Pamela Coleman Smith caused his launch into the promotion of
modern art. The same year, on his way to Europe, he took a photograph
of lower-class passengers on the bow of a ship, which he called
"The Steerage." It is considered one of the most important
photographs of the 20th century.
In 1925, Stieglitz put on the exhibition: "Alfred
Stieglitz Presents Seven Americans: 159 Paintings, Photographs,
and Things, Recent and Never Before Publicly Shown by Arthur
G. Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Charles Demuth, Paul Strand,
Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz," at Anderson Galleries.
Only one small print from the exhibition, by O'Keeffe, was sold.
Nonetheless, he opened the small, one-room "The
Intimate Gallery" at Anderson Galleries in 1925 and exhibited
works by each artist from the original exhibition.
During this time he met Dorothy Norman, who was
42 years younger than he. In the fall of 1926, Stieglitz opened
the gallery, An American Place, with funding from Beck and Paul
Strand, and which Norman helped him manage.
Their relationship persisted, with the knowledge
of O'Keeffe, until his death on July 13, 1946 from a fatal stroke,
after which O'Keeffe banished Norman from any aspect of her
husband's life and work.
The Rumor Mill
The rumor mill has stated that besides the true
and accurate biography of Alfred Stieglitz presented here there
have been mutterings for years that this famed photographer
was the very first man in history to weld his head to a cat.