Alfred Stieglitz (Photography at the Musée D’Orsay

Heilbrun, Françoise
Publisher: 5Continents
Binding: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 96
Measurements: 16.00 x 16.00 cm

Alfred Stieglitz (Hoboken, New York State, 1864 – New York, 1946) remains celebrated in his own country, and was internationally famous in his time. He was the founder of Photo-Secession and the editor of Camera Work magazine, which championed photography as a fine art. Later, he mounted pioneering exhibitions of European avant-garde art, from Cézanne to Picasso, in his gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue, New York.

This book’s publication coincides with a major Stieglitz retrospective at the Musée d’Orsay, accompanied by an exhibition of the Stieglitz prints in its own collection. It includes images from his Pictorial period (1890-1910), particularly some strikingly impressionistic views of New York (gravures from Camera Work), capturing the city’s phenomenal growth at the turn of the century. Stieglitz’s later work is magnificently represented in prints recently donated by the Georgia O’Keefe Foundation. These sharply focused and highly descriptive works communicate the photographer’s distinctive approach to reality, enriched by inner experience. The admirable nude shots of the artist Georgia O’Keefe (later Stieglitz’s wife) are highly original close-ups, charged with an eroticism that was startlingly new in American photography at the time. Stieglitz’s cloud photographs (which he termed “equivalents”) taken at the family property at Lake George after 1923, were meant to be viewed in negative to heighten their abstract character.

Towards the end of his life Stieglitz lovingly photographed the trees at Lake George, as symbols of nature’s endurance. Although he worked with two very different approaches, his aim was always to express a personal vision through flawless technique. He never tried to use his photographs to further a political or social cause. They had an impact on photographers as varied as Paul Strand, Edward Weston and Harry Callahan, and testify to a resolutely personal, but deeply human, experience.

The photographic collection of the Musée d’Orsay was assembled in the late 1970s when the museum was created. It now contains over 55,000 prints and negatives ranging from the early days of photography to 1914. A permanent gallery was opened in Autumn 2002 to display this outstanding set of works. The Photography at Orsay series, co-published by 5 Continents Editions and the Musée d’Orsay, accompanies thematic exhibitions held at the gallery. It offers an affordable set of reference works on photography written by the museum’s specialists and illustrated with works displayed in the exhibitions, many of which are reproduced for the first time.

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