Edward Steichen : biography
Edward Jean Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface to the magazine. In partnership with Stieglitz, Steichen opened the "Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession", which was eventually known as 291, after its address. This gallery presented among the first American exhibitions of (among others) Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Constantin Brâncuşi. Steichen's photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret in the magazine Art et Décoration in 1911 are regarded as the first modern fashion photographs ever published. Serving in the US Army in World War I (and the US Navy in the Second World War), he commanded significant units contributing to military photography. He was a photographer for the Condé Nast magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair from 1923–1938, and concurrently worked for many advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson. During these years Steichen was regarded as the best known and highest paid photographer in the world. Steichen directed the war documentary The Fighting Lady, which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary. After World War II he was Director of the Department of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art until 1962. While at MoMA, in 1955 he curated and assembled the exhibit The Family of Man. The exhibit eventually traveled to sixty-nine countries, was seen by nine million people, and sold two and a half million copies of a companion book. In 1962, Steichen hired John Szarkowski to be his successor at the Museum of Modern Art.
Partnership with Stieglitz
Steichen met Alfred Stieglitz in 1900, while stopping in New York City en route to Paris from his home in Milwaukee.Niven, Penelope (1997). Steichen: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter. ISBN 0-517-59373-4, p. 74 In that first meeting, Stieglitz expressed praise for Steichen's background in painting, and also bought three photographic prints of Steichen's.Niven (1997), p. 75
In 1902, when Stieglitz was formulating what would become Camera Work, he asked Steichen to design the logo for the magazine, with a custom typeface.Roberts, Pam (1997) "Alfred Stieglitz, 291 Gallery and Camera Work," contained in Stieglitz, Alfred (1997) Camera Work: The Complete Illustrations 1903–1917 Köln: Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-8072-8, p. 17
Steichen began experimenting with color photography in 1904, and was one of the first people in the United States to use the Autochrome Lumière process. In 1905, Steichen helped create the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession with Stieglitz.
In 1911, Steichen was "dared" by , the publisher of ' and La Gazette du Bon Ton , to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography.Niven (1997), p. 352 Steichen then took photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret. These photographs were published in the April 1911 issue of the magazine Art et Décoration. According to Jesse Alexander, This is "...now considered to be the first ever modern fashion photography shoot. That is, photographing the garments in such a way as to convey a sense of their physical quality as well as their formal appearance, as opposed to simply illustrating the object."Alexander, Jesse, "Edward Steichen: Lives in Photography," HotShoe magazine, no. 151, December/January 2008, pp. 66 – 67
After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into fashion photography. Steichen's 1928 photo of actress Greta Garbo is recognized as one of the definitive portraits of Garbo.
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