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Photographer Alfred Stieglitz Essay

Alfred Stieglitz was an American born photographer who was born in 1864 and died in 1946. He served as an instrumental person in making photography an acceptable art alongside sculpture and painting. He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and raised on manhattans Upper East Side. He partially studied mechanical engineering in Berlin at Technische Hochchule and later switched his study subject to photography. He won attention and prizes in Europe in the 1880s by traveling through European countrywide, taking photographs of the nature of Germanys black forest and peasants working on Dutch seacoast.

After he returned to New York, he married Emmeline in 1893 and got one child in 1898. As he was serving as an editor of American amateur photographer magazine, his style of editing proved alienating, autocratic and brusque to many subscribers. When he was forced to resign from this magazine, he joined the New York camera club which today exists as the camera club of New York. Here, Stieglitz produced a famous periodical for the club known as Camera Notes. He announced that published images should be termed as pictures and not a photograph, and differentiated the two through a scientific method.

He divorced with his wife in 1918 when she found him photographing Georgia O’Keeffe, whom he later moved with, and they married successfully in 1924 (Thomas, 1983, 11). He worked passionately and tirelessly to make sure that the work of photography is widely and globally accepted as a unique form of art. He dedicated to this art unrelentingly because of his view that photography was an artistic expression which can lead one to expound virtues of aesthetic notions. Such virtues included poetry, balance, light and inner vision. Following this line of thought, he described photography as a poem that has been written inn photography language.

It was also this time when the same photographer pronounced the virtues of a straight photography. In this perspective Alfred Stieglitz, a picture should be composed of an artist’s unique vision, just the right moment and a clear subject, rather than a product of painterly contrivances and darkroom manipulation. He therefore served as a source of encouragement and a mentor to photographers who at an unprecented rate imitated the aesthetics of painting. He believed that in our mechanized society, art is the only true expression of an individual (Thomas, 1983, 11).

Many critics and artists have judged the way Alfred Stieglitz used the medium of photography and concluded that it was a mere mechanized medium devoid of handwork. However, his work is considered a great tribute to his artistic vision. He had the ability to exquisite visions and conjuring up tender with a camera with little attention to the devices apparent objectivity. In his mature age, he saw it better and efficient to stick close to basic properties of camera emulsion, and lens. He continually argued that his work should be judged upon its own aesthetic merit.

At times, he could agree with those who varied their techniques more compared to the ones who espoused speak on his overriding conviction. Because of his spirit to improve the status of the photography profession in the global face, he could not be hurt by other artists who were advancing in photographer as a fine art. He is described by Newhall as an exponent of the straight photography by instinct and conviction with rapid exposures, relying on results upon means strictly photographic, working chiefly in the open air and leaving his models to pose themselves.

He is ranked as one of the excellent impressionists with full confidence before attempting to take a picture, searching vivid actuality effects and minimizing final record to the simplest possible expression possible (Barr, 1984, 17). In 1930s, Stieglitz took series of photographs, some heiress and others nude. Some photographs of those moments are still considered to have indicated the potential of isolated human body parts. His camera work ended in 1937 after heart disease attack. He was not discriminative because he promoted the acceptance of both modernist arts of America and Europe.

He forms a living bridge between era of the new straight photography of 1920s and 1930s and self consciously aesthetic pictorialist photography. He witnessed highly profound changes in the nation including the great depression, the two world wars, and the growth of America in phases of rural, agricultural up to an industrialized and culturally superpower country. Through his photography, he helped to affect some of the above transformations. He introduced modern European art to this nation through the intimate gallery; articles entitled an American place, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and organizing various exhibitions in America.

Since the time this photographer died, nobody known has contributed massively than him in this field, and he is therefore labeled the patron saint of straight photography. He left guidelines and arguments that are relevant to the field even applied today. To accurately obtain photographs, hand camera should be carefully adjusted to choose the subject regardless of the figures, lines and lighting. After all the above settings are accomplished accurately, passing figures should be observed, waiting for everything to balance by satisfying the eye.

Alfred Stieglitz can thus be pointed to the most important figure in American historic visual arts. According to the level of technology during his times, he was regarded as the American greatest artist. The reason as to why he had a great impact is that his participation was multiple. He was a collector, patron, publisher discoverer of photographers and artists in other media and was personally a great photographer (Cahill, 1965, 13). The multifold abilities nature showed renaissance manhood.

His accomplishments were remarkable, had visionary of enormous wide perspective and possess an awe inspiring perspective. He was a writer of great ability, photographer of genius, gallery owner, a publisher of inspiration, exhibition organizer of modern art exhibitions and photographic art exhibitions, charismatic leader and a catalyst in art and photographic worlds. He was considered a martyr, prophet, and highly contradictory character, self driven, complex and passionate. In the ultimate maverick, he inspired great hatred and great love in equal measures.

Before he died, he had produced more than 2500 mounted photographs. After his death, O’Keefe assembled the most complete and fine and sold them in efforts to mark the end of his stock. According to the above description of Alfred Stieglitz, it can be concluded that he was a revolutionist in the world of arts. He acted as a link between the arts appreciating change and the fixed artistic vision of the old age. Art today serve as fundamental elements of world in the social sphere that can not be overlooked. He therefore acted as a reminder to the world upon the relevance of arts.

The difficult periods which were going on in America show how perseverance the man was, meaning that he remains a global artistic figure (Szarkowski, 1963, 22). Work Cited: Barr Alfred. Master and Professor of modern art. Oxford: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 17. Cahill Holger. Art in America: A complete survey. California: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1965, p. 13. Szarkowski John. The photographer and the American landscape. New York: The Music Art, 1963, p. 22. Thomas Richard. Literary admirers of Alfred Stieglitz. Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983, p. 11.


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