Photographer, writer, publisher, gallery owner, leader of the Photo-Secession, and mentor to numerous other photographers, Alfred Stieglitz was a pivotal force during the late 19th and 20th centuries in promoting photography in America and gaining its acceptance as an art form. He also pioneered in bringing modern art to this country through the avant-garde European and American work presented in the pages of his well-known journal, Camera Work, and at his gallery, "291." Stieglitz (born in Hoboken, New Jersey) first became interested in photography in the early 1880s while studying mechanical engineering in Germany at the polytechnic institute in Charlottenburg (now a suburb of Berlin). Following a class with the great photochemist Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, Stieglitz turned his attention to photography and soon began writing technical articles on the subject for European journals. In 1887 he won a prize for a photograph submitted to the Holiday Work Competition sponsored by Amateur Photographer magazine. When he returned to the United States three years later, Stieglitz became a partner in the Photochrome Engraving Company; running a business did not interest him, however, and his association with the company lasted only five years. In addition to pursuing his own photographic work and writing articles on pictorial photography for various American journals during the 1890s, Stieglitz became editor of the American Amateur Photographer in 1893. Four years later he took on the editorship of Camera Notes, the journal of the newly formed Camera Club of New York. In 1902 Stieglitz organized the first Photo-Secession exhibition at the National Arts Club in New York, launching an organization that was to play a major role in the fight for recognition of photography as an art form. At the end of the year he began publishing Camera Work, the journal of the Photo-Secession, which soon became one of the premier photographic publications of the day (the first issue, dated January 1903, was published in December 1902). In 1905, with the assistance of painter and photographer Edward Steichen, Stieglitz opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue. The gallery, which soon became known as "291," provided Stieglitz with a center from which to promote art photography and exhibit the work of its finest practitioners. In addition to presenting work by the most advanced American and European pictorial photographers, Stieglitz began showing the work of modern European artists, including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Cézanne. He also organized numerous exhibitions of art photography for museums and expositions in this country and in Europe, including the famous 1910 International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography at the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo. After closing "291" in 1917, Stieglitz focused on his own work, beginning a series of portraits of artist Georgia O'Keeffe (whom he married in 1924) and a series of cloud pictures called Equivalents, which he exhibited in the 1920s at the Anderson Gallery in New York. During these years he also produced a group of photographs of New York City skyscrapers, as well as images of Lake George, New York. Stieglitz continued to photograph into the 1930s. He also ran two galleries from the mid-1920s until his death: the Intimate Gallery (1925-29) and An American Place (1929-46). Both galleries presented the work of a small group of American modernists, including O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Paul Strand, as well as Stieglitz's photographs. M.M.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Julia Margaret Cameron British, 1815-1879
Born in Calcutta to a French mother and an English father employed by the East India Company, Julia Margaret Cameron was a key figure in the development of photography both in Britain and abroad. She was sent, under the care of her grandmother, to France for her education. Marriage to jurist Charles Hay Cameron took her back to India in 1838, and to England in 1848, where in 1860 the family finally settled on the Isle of Wight. Three years later Cameron received her first camera, a gift from her daughter, as a way to pass the time while her husband was away on an extended trip to Ceylon.
For the next 15 years, Cameron's passion for photography, and her fortunate position among Britain's cultural elite, allowed her to produce a series of portraits, allegories, and illustrations that are among the most admired and influential of photographic images. Frequently marked by a loose, soft style, her portraits of well-known figures, such as Sir John Herschel, Thomas Carlyle, and Ellen Terry, reveal her subject's character in an unusually forceful manner. Her allegories and tableaux often include neighbors and friends like Lord Tennyson and her artistic mentor, the Pre-Raphaelite painter G. F. Watts. In 1874 she illustrated Tennyson's popular long poem Idylls of the King.
In 1875, after the death of her daughter, Cameron returned to Ceylon with her husband, joining their five sons. There she continued to photograph until her death in 1879. A later generation was introduced to Cameron's work by Alfred Stieglitz, who reproduced a selection from it in Camera Work. T.W.F.