Alfred Stieglitz was one of the most influential and important photographers and artists of the twentieth century. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, 1864, Stieglitz was at the forefront in the progression of the photographic medium from scientific experiment into the realm of high art. He was also an inspiring promoter of modern art and from the site of his own gallery shone a light on a number of fundamental modern America artists.
Born in 1864, Stieglitz’s photographic career lasted over fifty years. Perhaps some of his most famous photographs are the intimate and detailed examinations he made of the painter Georgia O’Keefe’s hands. These photographs are not only revered for the immaculate technical skill but are imbued with a deep bond between the two, who were married. For Stieglitz, O’Keefe’s hands are the symbol of his love for her and of the essence of her character.
During his early years Stieglitz won many awards for his photographs across America, where his work detailed the everyday life of the modern times. Inspired by the movability of the handheld camera Stieglitz used a 5×4 portable camera and during the period of 1891 and 1901 produced some the most iconic turn of the century photographs we have today. During this period he was also the vice-president of The Camera Club of New York, and from this position he pushed the medium of photography into the new century, and into the public eye.
As his career developed Stieglitz refused to allow himself to plateau, and was constantly pushing and promoting both his own and the work of other great artists. From the gallery he ran he previewed works by Auguste Rodin, Toulouse Lautrec and Claude Monet, amongst others.
In 1925 Stieglitz organized one of the largest exhibitions that the American art world had experienced at that time. He presented seven American artists to the world, entitling 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.
In 1936 Stieglitz also exhibited one of the first ever shows of Ansel Adams in New York City. However in 1938 Stieglitz suffered from a serious heart attack, one that would seriously weaken him and his spirit. He had hoped to return to the gallery during the times when his strength was regained, but he died in 1946 after suffering a stroke.
Stieglitz’s work has been shown in National art galleries worldwide, and is now considered as pioneer of modern street photography. The largest collection of his work can be found at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, which holds around 1642 of his photographs.