5 facts about Alfred Stieglitz – a Short Biography

1. Stieglitz devoted his fifty-year photography career in making photography an accepted form of art.

Alfred Stieglitz was born January 1, 1864 and his only mission in life, which he was devoted, was ensuring that photography was accepted as an art form. He spent 50 years insistent that he would do nothing else. He refused to undertake any other profession that had nothing to do with photography. He was married to the artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Unafraid of boundaries he lead the way himself in his indestructible desire to have photography recognized as an art form and many photographers today recognize him to be catalyst to the industry.

2. Coming from a military family, discipline and orders would have been the norm.

He blatantly refused to conform and could only refer to his passions in art. Alfred was worldly having travelled with his family to Europe and spent a great deal of time in Germany where he would discover for the first time his academic interests and studies that would challenge his intellect for the first time.

Adolf von Menzel and Wilhelm Hasemann, introduced Alfred to the idea of art in photography so he studied further with fascinating himself of the Italian, Netherlands and German countryside exploring the notion. His love was reinforced and further inspired.

He submitted photographs to the British Magazine Amateur Competition and won first place with ‘The Last Joke’. The following year he won first and second place and became initially recognized as a debut photographer. No easy task given the mediocre and expensive technology.

3. He returned to New York at the death of his sister.

His devoted father helped him start his “Photochrome Engraving Company”. Alfred demanded quality and spent money on employing the best of people. In 1893 he was invited to be the co-editor of “The American Amateur Photographer”, following his reputation in writing about the art of photography.

In a year’s honeymoon around Europe he relentlessly photographed Italy, France and Switzerland capturing for all time what is now long gone.  On his return he was unanimously nominated as the first of two American Members of Linked Ring. He later merged Amateur Photographers and the New York Camera Club (1902-1907), resigning from Photochrome Engraving Company and as editor of American Amateur Photographer in 1895 in order to achieve this.

Taking control of “Camera Notes” later on, his vision was completely uncompromisable for quality and standards. Alfred’s work was selected for “First Philadelphia Photographic Salon” where he met and bonded closely with Gertrude Käsebier and Clarence H. White and called themselves “Secessionists” for is dual meaning originating in artistic and social connotations.

4. He collaborated with Clarence H. White and producing clothed and nude photographs.

Alfred was never financially successful across all his achievements as his wealth lay in the recognition that is deserved today. His absolute commitment to shaping what was considered art’s norm (painting and drawings) to embrace the new meaning of art which in itself is now widely recognized as a way of thinking on a subject opposed to what the media used is.

5. Stieglitz created over 2500 photographs in photography career.

His career was throughout his life and he, never tired of it, having created 2500 photographs before passing in 1946, at the aged 86. More famous now that he was when alive there seems no art student unaware of his valuable dedication to his profession.

Check out this short video about Alfred Stieglitz below – A New Way of Seeing.

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