Preview: How Alfred Stieglitz Framed Our Contemporary New York

In Black and White Photography, Books, Photographer on October 9, 2010 at 6:26 am


© Alfred Stieglitz New York, by Bonnie Yochelson, Skira Rizzoli, 2010

We admire the early last century work of Alfred Stieglitz. His New York photos are among his most famous and they are revisited in a new book by Bonnie Yochelson.

Today’s New Yorkers will recognize in Steiglitz’s images of snow-covered streets (“An Icy Night,” 1898, and “Reflections Night –  New York”, 1897) the magic of being seemingly alone in a city of millions. In part, Steiglitz was trying to convey his own personal isolation. But there was also some larger myth-making at work.

In 1896, Steiglitz was the editor of Camera Notes, which published an October 1900 essay by an art critic that entreated photographers to “teach New Yorkers to love their own city… and be proud of its beauties as the Parisians are of their city.”

In the 1930s, Steigliz focused his attention on Manhattan’s changing skyline and the interplay of geometries that emerge each day from shadows on skyscrapers. But even these images suggest a glinting coldness and isolation. Stieglitz’s wife, Georgia O’Keefe, famously said that her husband “was always photographing himself.”

To read more on the book : WSJ Review

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