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Avendon, Richard

Bailey, David

Beaton, Cecil

Bourdin, Guy

Blumenfeld, Erwin

Coffin, Clifford

Dahl-Wolfe, Louise

De Mayer, Adolfe

Donovan, Terence

Duffy, Brian

Frissell, Tony

Horst, Horst P



Maywald, Will


Maywald, Will

Moon, Sarah

Morel, Jean

Munkacsi, Martin

Newton, Helmut

Parkinson, Norman

Penn, Irwin

Ray, Man

Steichen, Edward

Stern, Bert

Turbeville, Deborah

Edward Steichen


Edward Steichen was known as 'the master of lighting'. He used plain backgrounds to focus on the outfit being modelled. He was an American photographer who sought an emotional impressionistic rendering of his subjects and strove to have photography recognised as a serious art form.

Edward Steichen concluded that when a woman saw a picture of a dress she should get 'a very good idea of how it was put together and what it looked like'. His decision to take photographs that would make crystal clear the fabric cut and destails of the cosumer

dward Steichen, who joined Vogue in 1923, trained as an artist but symbolically destroyed all his canvases in 1922 to concentrate on photography .

teichen took up photography in 1895, at the age of sixteen, and was self-taught. During his early career, around the turn of the century, he was associated with a style of photography known as Pictorialism.


The Pictorialists felt that the aesthetic promise of photography lay in an emulation of painting. Steichen's early work, then, adopted many Pictorialist techniques (a jiggled tripod, a lens bathed in glycerin, or various darkroom tricks) designed to produce 'painterly' soft-focus effects. During this period, Steichen was also a

painter, until he burned all his canvases in 1922.

In these pioneer days, photographers were given a free hand and competition between the magazines Vogue and Harpers Bazaar encouraged creativity.

'the master of lighting'

dward Steichen was known as 'the master of lighting'. He used plain backgrounds to focus attention on the outfit being modelled. He was an American photographer who sought an emotional impressionistic rendering of his subjects and strove to have photography recognised as a serious art form.

y the 1930's fashion photography had become a distinctive visual genre in the Arts. Couture was still for the aristocratic but fashion itself was beginning to become less elite. Vogue had become an important arbiter of fashion, purveying elegant and tasteful images to its affluent readers who had the time, money and dedication to be well dressed.

The development of hand held cameras

evelopment of hand held cameras and faster film speeds (Particularly the 1/1000 Leica) made outdoor shoots feasible. The Rolliflex camera and colour film provided new levels of reality.

The Surrealism Art movement had a huge influence and there was a marked shift from classicism to surrealism.

Photographs by Man Ray and Horst P. Horst provided a fusion of contemporary art and fashion.

World War II effectively closed down the fashion industry. Paris

became isolated by the French Occupation in 1940 and photographers such as Man Ray and Horst P. Horst emigrated to New York. The shift from Europe to the U.S.A. was coupled with the emergence of a youthful and sporty American look.

uring the past few years, photographers and art/creative directors have become increasingly more inventive and creative in promoting fashion within Sunday magazines. Sometimes the product almost seems to be a vehicle for the self-indulgence of the photographer and director. Nevertheless, we are presented with some very interesting images.

dward Steichen was one of the most influential figures in the history of photography. He was also one of the most precocious.

Born in Luxembourg, raised in Wisconsin, and trained as a lithographer's apprentice, Steichen took up photography in his teens and by age twenty-three had created brooding tonalist landscapes and brilliant psychological studies that won the praise of Alfred Stieglitz in New York and Auguste Rodin in Paris, among others.

'the peerless master of the painterly photograph'

ver the next decade, this young man, the preferred portraitist of the elite of two continents,was repeatedly acclaimed as the peerless master of the painterly photograph. |

Steichen worked with a designer's inventive eye, a Symbolist's poetic sensibility, an entrepreneur's charisma, and -above all - the originality and finesse of a creative and painstaking printer to establish ambitious new standards in artistic photography.

Overlaying the subtle tone-poetry of his platinum prints with repeated washes of harmonious color, he created unforgettable images. In his three famous twilight views of New York's Flatiron Building, one of the landmarks of turn-of-the-century architecture, Steichen crafted a powerful symbol of a new age.

During his long career he worked in a variety of styles in black-and-white and in color; his subjects ranged from portraits and landscapes, to fashion and advertising photography, to photography of dance and sculpture. His early work demonstrated a mastery of soft-focus Pictorialism, yet after the first World War he became a proponent of "straight" photography and the New Realism.

teichen is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of photography. During his active career, which lasted over half the life span of photography, he was renowned as an artist, fashion photographer, curator, writer, and technical innovator.

He was also a passionate advocate for photography as an art form, and led, along with Alfred Stieglitz, an aesthetic revolution that enabled photography to be considered as a medium capable of interpretation and expression, and not as a mere documentary record of visual facts.

In her book on Steichen,, Joel Smith explores Steichen's maturing artistry in the light of contemporary developments in photography, graphic design, and the decorative arts.


photograph from his stunning sequence of Rodin's Balzac figure in the moonlight is presented below.

he intense energy of a decade comes to life in his portraits of a diverse cast ranging from Richard Strauss to J. P. Morgan, Maurice Maeterlinck to George Bernard Shaw and Steichen himself, the founding author of a century of celebrity.

Foundation of the
291 Gallery

n 1905, with Stieglitz, he founded the famous Little Galleries of the Photo Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York (later the 291 Gallery) to promote photography as an art form in particular, and European Modernism in general.

Steichen soon came under the spell of the new art movements with their abstract geometries, and he gradually abandoned his Pictorialism in favour of straight photography with a strong sense of design and clean, uncluttered images and compositions.

Steichen went on to command the photographic division of the U.S. Expeditionary Forces in World War I, and to direct the Naval Photographic Institute in World War II.

Conde Nast

uring the 1920s and 1930s he worked as a commercial photographer for Conde Nast's publications including Vogue and Vanity Fair, and from 1947-1962 was Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Family of Man

n 1947 Steichen was appointed director of photography for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He prepared The Family of Man, a photographic exhibit (1955) that later toured the world and in book form sold 3 million copies. His work is collected in the Museum of Modern Art and Eastman House, Rochester, New York. He died in West Redding on March 25, 1973.

This exhibition features Steichen's straight photography from 1915 through 1954. During this period, the artist was best known for his Modernist, formal compositions of landscapes, cityscapes, nature studies, and still-lifes, as well as his penetrating, straight-forward portraits of celebrities. The forty-six works in Edward Steichen: Photographs are silver-gelatin prints, printed posthumously by Steichen's protègè and long-time printer George Tice (Tice's own work can be seen in DeCordova Collects Photographs: Recent Acquisitions in the main galleries). The Steichen photographs are part of DeCordova's Permanent Collection, and are the generous gift of collectors Stephen L. Singer and Linda G. Singer. This exhibition was organized by Associate Curator Nick Capasso.
Steichen's entire body of work is noted for a highly developed sense of design. As a curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art, for 15 years Steichen was responsible for many important exhibitions, including The Family of Man.

teichen was born Eduard Jean Steichen in Luxembourg. His family came to the United States in 1881 and settled in Hancock, Michigan; in 1889 they moved to Milwaukee.

Steichen's early interest in art was encouraged by his mother. He attended the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where he was introduced to important contemporary works of art. At age 15 Steichen began a 4-year lithography apprenticeship at Milwaukee's American Fine Art Company. From 1894 to 1898 he worked under Richard Lorenz and Robert Schode at the Milwaukee Art Students League. He began to photograph in 1895, but continued to pursue his career as a painter for the next 20 years.

Steichen's photographs received their first public showing at the Second Philadelphia Salon in 1899. The following year (in which he became a naturalized American citizen), Steichen received encouragement from Clarence White, who prompted Alfred Stieglitz to purchase three Steichen prints.

While in Paris at this time Steichen was deeply impressed by the work of Rodin, of whose work and person he would create many extraordinary images. Thirty-five Steichen photographs were included in F. Holland Day's The New School of American Photography exhibition in London and Paris in 1901. Steichen was elected to the Linked Ring at this time.

In 1902 he became a founding member of the Photo-Secession and designed the cover of its journal, Camera Work, in which his work often was reproduced in the coming years. Steichen's first one-man show of photographs and paintings was held at La Maison des Artistes in Paris the same year. In New York Steichen helped Stieglitz open the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession ("291") at which Steichen exhibited regularly.

Steichen began experimenting with color photography in 1904 and was an early user of the Lumiere Autochrome process.

He returned to Paris in 1906 and was responsible for selecting work to be exhibited by Stieglitz in New York. Among the artists whose work he sent on were John Marin, Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi, Cezanne, and Rodin.

n 1910 thirty-one Steichen photographs were exhibited at the international Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in Buffalo, which was curated by Stieglitz. The following year Steichen made his first fashion photographs, but he began devoting much of his time to painting. In 1913 Stieglitz wrote of the double issue of Camera Work devoted to Steichen's photographs:

"Nothing I have ever done has given me quite so much satisfaction as finally sending this Number out into the world."

As commander of the photographic division of the Army Expeditionary Forces in World War 1, Steichen became acquainted with aerial photography, which required a new precision.

He was also employed as an advertising photographer by the J. Walter Thompson Agency. Among Steichen's sitters during these years were his brother-in-law Carl Sandburg, Greta Garbo, Charles Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, and H. L. Mencken. Steichen's relationship with Stieglitz was strained over issues concerning commercial and advertising work to which Stieglitz objected. Steichen believed that his fashion and other commercial photography could be raised to the level of art.

uring the war years Steichen organized the Road to Victory and Power in the Pacific exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. From 1947 to 1962 Steichen was director of the Department of Photography at the Museum.

He did no photographic work of his own during these years, but was responsible for nearly 50 shows, including the Family of Man (for which he selected images from over two million photographs and which became the most popular exhibition in the history of photography as well as a best-selling book), The Bitter Years, and the Diogenes with a Camera series.

The Edward Steichen Photography Centre

In 1961 Steichen was honoured by a one-man show of his photographs at the Museum of Modern Art. The Edward Steichen Photography Centre was established at the museum in 1964. In 1967 Steichen wrote,

"Today I am no longer concerned with photography as an art form. I believe it is potentially the best medium for explaining man to himself and to his fellow man."

Steichen died in West Redding, Connecticut, shortly before his 94th birthday.

Profile: Edward Steichen
In the range and quality of his production in the fashion and advertising fields, Edward Steichen might be said to embody the development of utilitarian photography in the 20th century. Steichen was engaged with much that was vital and new in the medium during the 20th century, from a beginning as a Pictorialist photographer through activities in the commercial sector to a position as director of the most prestigious museum photography department in the United States (at the Museum of Modern Art). As a creative individual, as a designer of exhibitions and periodicals, as a director of projects, he left an unmistakable imprint on the photographic trends of his time.
Born Eduard Steichen, in Luxembourg in 1879, he was brought to the United States as an infant. When he displayed artistic ability he was apprenticed after 1894 to a firm of lithographers in Milwaukee; he both painted and photographed, submitting to Pictorialist salons during the 1890s. Clarence H. White noticed him in 1900 and soon after brought him to the attention of Stieglitz, with whom he shortly began to collaborate on the installations for the gallery 291 and on the founding of Camera Work, for which he designed the first cover and the initial publicity. Still not entirely committed to photography, Steichen spent the greater part of the period before the first World War painting in France. There his knowledge of Symbolism, Expressionism, and Cubism enabled him to direct Stieglitz's attention to these significant art movements. Besides paintings (nearly all of which he later destroyed), Steichen made sensitive photographs in the Symbolist style of landscapes, genre scenes, and New York cityscapes and perceptive portraits of wealthy and creative individuals in Paris and New York during this period. As part of the active New York art scene of the time, he was portrayed photographing Marcel Duchamp, in Sunday Afternoon in the Country, a 1917 oil by Florine Stettheimer. Other photographers included in the painted scene are Arnold Genthe and Baron de Meyer.
Steichen's experiences as director of aerial photography for the Allied Forces during World War I, followed by a period of several years of photographic experimentation based on his interest in the theory of dynamic symmetry, enabled him to shed the vestiges of his Pictorialist sensibility and open himself up to modernist ideas. In his position with Conde Nast from 1922 and also as a free-lance advertising photographer, he explored the vocabulary of the New Objectivity during the 1920s in order to create ingenious advertising and fashion images in what was still a relatively fresh field. This phase of Steichen's career, which he brought to an end in 1938 when he realized that commercial work was no longer personally stimulating, prepared him to embrace a broader concept of photography and to assume a role as administrator. Although not himself involved in photo-reportage or the documentary movement, by the late 1930s he was convinced that the fine quality of work produced by photographers working for the Farm Security Administration and for Life had effectively erased aesthetic distinctions among images made as personal expression, as photojournalism, or as social commentary.
In 1947, after serving as director of Naval Combat Photography during World War II, Steichen accepted the directorship of the Department of Photography of the Museum of Modern Art. His purpose, he said, was to make sure that what he called the "aliveness in the melting pot of American photography" and "the restless seekings, probing aspirations and experiments of younger photographers" would be represented in the museum collection. During his tenure, which lasted until 1961, he organized and promoted exhibitions, wrote numerous articles, helped publish books on the medium, and was instrumental in making photographic images acceptable in a museum setting. In 1955, Steichen organized The Family of Man exhibition and catalog, which he considered the culmination of his career. He believed that this show promoted photography as "a tool for penetrating beneath the surface of things" and that it proved that journalistic photographs had their own aesthetic forms. Long before he died in 1972, he was recognized as one of the small group of individuals whose ideas, energy, and images had helped shape photography in the 20th century.
Edward Steichen:
The Early Years
Joel Smith

You are commissioned to produce a series of photographs for a fashion editorial in a leading Sunday magazine. Your inspiration should be the work of the painter-turned photographer Edward Steichen. Pay particular reference to his portraits from 1903 - 1906 which have a strong painterly quality.

Produce a layout for a four-page spread incorporating a full page image and two smaller images. The format and size of the work is to be of your own choosing. You need only produce the typography for the article title and subheadings. Coverage on the full page image is to be no more than 10%. You should, however, indicate the position of columns and page numbers.

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