Preview: Three Masters of Photography at the Met “Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand”, New York

In Art Museum, Black and White Photography, Exhibits, Photographer on December 19, 2010 at 11:13 am


Edward Steichen by Paul Strand

“Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand” is our destination this week in NYC. An early Christmas present indeed. For a preview guide please read the article by Ariella Budick in today’s Financial Times then take the time to look at the the online catalog of the Met exhibit.

According to the standard narrative, Alfred Stieglitz came to the medium in the late 19th century, determined to pry it from the clutches of Sunday amateurs and enthrone it next to painting and sculpture as one of the fine arts. He and his fellow pictorialists imitated the gauzy, atmospheric paintings of Whistler, the compositions of Japanese woodblock prints and the steamy cityscapes of the impressionists. But by the time of the legendary Armory Show in New York in 1913, Stieglitz had rejected the symbolist style in favour of a modernist orthodoxy,
insisting on sharp focus with no visible retouching, and commanding a kind of latent abstraction from his followers. With the fanaticism of a new convert, he condemned the manipulated print for its fraudulence and artificiality.
Formalism now ruled, and Stieglitz even reinterpreted his old pictures to conform to his new ideas. “You may call this a crowd of immigrants,” he famously said of “The Steerage”, taken in 1907 but not exhibited until 1913. “To me it is a study in mathematical lines, in balance, in a pattern of light and shade.”

The exhibit runs now through April 10, 2011.

The FT article: Financial Times

The Met CatalogMet Online

The Met exhibit information: Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand

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