Posts Tagged ‘Alfred STieglitz’

For Alfred Stieglitz: Great American photographer. Paul Goldfinger, Oakhurst, NJ © Autumn 2021


Alfred Stieglitz was a man of the arts.  He excelled in photography and opened the earliest gallery to exhibit photographs.  Here is a Blogfinger link about him:

Alfred Stieglitz—pioneer of American art photography


Stieglitz. Photographer unknown. Lake George.

In 1995 MOMA featured an exhibit devoted only to Stieglitz’s Lake George work.

The museum said, “Alfred Stieglitz at Lake George comprises 93 black-and-white photographs made between 1914 and 1936. Works include selections from Stieglitz’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe—a series of more than 300 photographs made over two decades—ranging from the early, intimate closeups of the painter’s face and hands to the later pictures of the liberated, mature woman.

“The exhibition includes the sky and cloud pictures known as “Equivalents,” and one of Stieglitz’s favorite late subjects, the poplars that lined the road between his house on the hill and the nearby lake. Many photographs concentrate on the house and barns on the property, trees and grasses in various seasons, and portraits of such visitors as Paul Strand and Abraham Walkowitz, and various family members.”

His Lake George work was about his private life, especially his images of his artist wife Georgia O’Keeffe.

He turned his attention to nature, and some critics believe that this period   (1930’s) contained many of his greatest works.

One that I always liked was a low key view of some apples with dew. It fascinated me to see his willingness to capture such simple subject matter. It is so much different from his early work in New York City.

Apples and Gable. Lake George. By Alfred Stieglitz. 1922   from Met Museum.


“When Stieglitz sent this print to Georgia O’Keeffe at Christmas in 1939, he did not need to remind her of the moment of its making. The couple, not yet married, were together at the farm at Lake George, New York. The upward peak of the gable and the tantalizingly incumbent apples joined the symbolic national fruit with Stieglitz’s sexuality and his search for an American art. Upon seeing the photograph, the poet Hart Crane exclaimed to Stieglitz, “That is it, you have captured life.”   (Met quote.)

Stieglitz introduced sensuality to some of his work, and he celebrated women.  Here is one of his photographs from that period:


Stieglitz Lake George



From the soundtrack of the movie Pride and Prejudice.  “The Secret Life of Daydreams.”


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"The Hand of Man" (1902) by Alfred Stieglitz.

“The Hand of Man” (1902) by Alfred Stieglitz.

Paul Goldfinger, Photography Editor @Blogfinger.

Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) was born in Hoboken of a German-Jewish immigrant family.   He first trained as an engineer, but later he discovered photography.   After the turn of the century he moved to New York City where he began an illustrious career as a fine art photographer and gallery owner.  He led the photo-secessionist movement which was about promoting photography as a fine art.  He also introduced America to many European impressionist painters.

Stieglitz published the first fine art photography journal called Camera Work which existed from 1903-1917.  All the images in Camera Work were made with an exquisitely beautiful method called photogravure which utilized etched copper plates to make the prints.

Stieglitz had his gallery in New York City. It was called Gallery 291.  Stieglitz was also the husband of the painter Georgia O’Keefe who posed for many nude studies by her spouse.

One of my favorite Stieglitz Camera Work images is a photogravure called “The Hand of Man” taken (see above)  in the the New York Central Railroad Yards.  It is one of only two known train photographs by Stieglitz. I have a copy of the other which is quite similar and is called “In the Central Railroad Yards (1910.)”

In the process of convincing the world that photography was a full-fledged art form, he often gave his images names that may seem somewhat pretentious  such as the title of our featured photograph.  Another of his photographs, a NYC skyline, was called, “The City of Ambition.”

Below are some samples of the kind of critical analyses which are often brought to bear for works titled this way.  Personally I think these sorts of images, as gorgeous as they may be, should not be given titles.  Better to let the viewer form an opinion.

From the Museum of Modern Art in NYC:       “The Hand of Man was first published in January 1903 in the inaugural issue of Camera Work. With this image of a lone locomotive chugging through the train yards of Long Island City, Stieglitz showed that a gritty urban landscape could have an atmospheric beauty and a symbolic value as potent as those of an unspoiled natural landscape. The title alludes to this modern transformation of the landscape and also perhaps to photography itself as a mechanical process. Stieglitz believed that a camera could be transformed into a tool for creating art when guided by the hand and sensibility of an artist.”

From the Pratt Institute of Art and Design:    “The title serves a dual purpose, both serving as a commentary on the idea of the hand of the photographer and his ability to depict this modern world in such a fashion, but also more figuratively man’s footprint on the landscape and how humans have transformed their surroundings.”

And finally, this is what Alfred Stieglitz himself said about photography as art,  “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

FATS WALLER:  So if art appreciation is about the pursuit of reality, here is  Fats Waller with:  “Until the Real Thing Comes Along.”


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