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Interesting Facts about Alfred Stieglitz - Renowned Photographer

Updated on May 7, 2018
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Haley is a professional nerd with a penchant for researching historical figures.

A photo of Alfred Stieglitz from 1902. The photo was taken by Gertrude Käsebier.
A photo of Alfred Stieglitz from 1902. The photo was taken by Gertrude Käsebier. | Source

Who was Alfred Stieglitz?

Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer. He spent his career as a modern art promoter, photographer, and editor. He also spent much of his time lobbying for photography to be recognized as an accepted art form and was a leader in the Pictorialist movement.

He is also famously known as Georgia O'Keeffe's husband and is credited for some of her success due to his promotion of her pieces.

There is nothing so wrong as accepting a thing merely because men who have done things say it should be so.

— Alfred Stieglitz

Quick Facts

  1. Alfred Stieglitz lived to be 82.
  2. Grew up in a military family.
  3. Alfred Stieglitz was educated as an engineer.
  4. Promoted and married Georgia O'Keeffe.
  5. Was an important leader in the Pictorialist movement.
  6. Stieglitz closed Gallery 291 in 1917.
  7. In December of 1925 he opened the Intimate Gallery.
  8. In 1929 Stieglitz opened a gallery called An American Place, which he was to operate until his death
  9. In February 2006, one of Alfred's most expensive photographs sold for 1.47 million dollars. It was a 1919 palladium print of Georgia O’Keeffe.
  10. He died in the summer of 1946 from complications following a stroke.

American Masters Focuses on Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz's Early Life

Alfred was born on January 1, 1864, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The eldest of six children, his parents were German-Jewish immigrants. His father was a successful officer in the American Civil War.

His parents worried about the quality of education their children received from the American school system, and so they sold their American company and move back to Germany. Here Alfred realized that he could be challenged by his education, and began to develop an interest in engineering and photography.

By 1882, Alfred was enrolled in Berlin's Technische Hochschule, where he studied engineering. During this time period, he became enthralled with photography. The interest in photography soon paid off since he won both the first and second place in a competition for the English journal Amateur Photographer in 1887.

One of Stieglitz's first autochrome
One of Stieglitz's first autochrome | Source

Involvement with the Pictorialist Movement

The Pictorialist Movement was a movement during the 19th and early 20th century, that strove to legitimize photography as an art form. Much of Stieglitz's works are in the pictorialist style, which was a general style of photography where the artist 'creates an image' instead of simply capturing an event.

Stieglitz was a leader in the movement to legitimize photography as an art form, since in the early 1900s it was still not recognized as a form of art.

As the editor of Camera Notes, a quarterly journal, and the director of multiple galleries in New York, Alfred was able to share the work of up and coming artists, while also showing how photography belonged in these same galleries.

I do not object to retouching, dodging. or accentuation as long as they do not interfere with the natural qualities of photographic technique.

— Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz's Relationship with Georgia O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe and Stieglitz met in 1916 while he was an established gallery owner and award-winning photographer. She was an unknown artist teaching art in Texas. By 1918 she had moved with him to a small studio in New York.

Stieglitz was still married for much of their early relationship, and the promotion of her artwork is considered the main reason that O'Keeffe's art rose to popularity so quickly.

During their relationship, they exchanged over 25,000 pieces of paper, many of which are documented and available to read. My Faraway One is edited by Sarah Greenough and focuses on letters exchanged between 1915 and 1933.

American Playhouse: A Marriage - the story of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

1925 Exhibition

In 1925, Stieglitz was invited by the Anderson Galleries to put together one of the largest exhibitions of American art, titled Alfred Stieglitz Presents Seven Americans: 159 Paintings, Photographs, and Things, Recent and Never Before Publicly Shown by Arthur G. Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Charles Demuth, Paul Strand, Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.

After the exhibition, Stieglitz was offered the use of a room at the Anderson Galleries. He used this room for a series of exhibitions by some of the same artists in the Seven Americans show.

In December 1925, he opened a new gallery called "The Intimate Gallery". Over the next four years, he put together sixteen shows of works by Marin, Dove, Hartley, O'Keeffe, and Strand, along with individual exhibits by Gaston Lachaise, Oscar Bluemner, and Francis Picabia.

The Death of Alfred Stieglitz

Stieglitz's health began to fail in the 1930s, causing him to photograph less. In 1937 he stopped photographing permanently.

In 1938 he experienced the first of many strokes which plagued him for the next eight years.

After a final stroke, he died in 1946, in New York City.


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    • wpcooper profile image

      Liam Finnegan 

      9 months ago from Los Angeles

      interesting I will look him up. A nice tight informative piece. I've heard of Eisenstadt, Arbus, Adams of course....but not this fellow.

      thank you

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