Francis Bruguière American, 1879-1945
Born into a wealthy San Francisco banking family, Francis Bruguière studied painting in Europe. He developed an interest in photography after meeting Alfred Stieglitz and Frank Eugene during a 1905 trip to New York, where he remained to study with Eugene and became a member of the Photo-Secession. In 1906 Bruguière returned to San Francisco and opened a photography studio. Thirteen years later he was back in New York to begin work as a commercial photographer for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and the Theatre Guild.
During the 1920s Bruguière experimented with "light abstractions" -- images filled with abstract patterns of light and shade made from dramatically lit cut-paper designs. In 1929 his photographs were included in the Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart, a show featuring the work of the most experimental and progressive photographers. The following year he collaborated with Oswell Blakeston, a writer and film critic, to produce an abstract film, Light Rhythms. Moving to England in 1928, Bruguière worked in advertising and continued his photographic experiments with light and multiple exposures. He retired from photography in 1940. M.M.
Frank Eugene German, b. United States, 1865-1936
Pictorial photographer Frank Eugene was known for his skillful hand-manipulation of images. Born Frank Eugene Smith in New York City, he attended City College of New York, then studied at the Royal Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Initially trained as a painter, Eugene took up photography in the mid-1880s and by the turn of the century was exhibiting his work widely. In 1899 he took part in exhibitions at the London Salon and at the Camera Club of New York, and the following year was elected to membership in England's Linked Ring. In 1902 Eugene became a founding member of the Photo-Secession and was selected by Alfred Stieglitz to be among the group of American photographers displaying work at the Esposizione Internationale d'Arte Moderna in Turin, Italy. That same year he was also included in the first Photo-Secession exhibition at the National Arts Club in New York. He subsequently participated in numerous photographic salons and shows, including the well-known 1910 exhibition of pictorial photography organized by Stieglitz for the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo. Eugene's work was also featured in several issues of Camera Work between 1904-16 (Stieglitz having earlier reproduced his photographs in Camera Notes).
In 1906 Eugene moved to Germany, where he worked as a painter and continued to take photographs. Known as a "painter-photographer," he often manipulated a photographic image by drawing on the negative or marking it with an etching needle in order to achieve a desired effect in the final picture. In 1913 he was appointed to the world's first chair in pictorial photography at the Royal Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig. M.M.
Paul Strand American, 1890-1976
Paul Strand (born in New York City) was an influential advocate of the straight approach in creative photography. While a student at the Ethical Culture School in New York, Strand studied photography with Lewis Hine (1907-8). In 1908 he joined the Camera Club of New York and three years later traveled through Europe, making softly focused, manipulated photographs in the popular pictorial style. In the fall of 1911 Strand established himself as a freelance commercial photographer in New York and two years later began visiting the exhibitions of modern art at Alfred Stieglitz's Photo-Secession galleries.
Between 1914-17, stimulated by his contact with Stieglitz and avant-garde American and European art, Strand abandoned pictorialism for images that expressed an interest in formal concerns and the dynamism of contemporary urban life. He experimented with abstraction and movement and candid portraiture of people on the street. Excited by Strand's innovative work, Stieglitz exhibited his pictures at "291" in 1916 and featured them in the final two issues of Camera Work (October 1916; June 1917). In 1917 Strand expressed his belief in a pure photographic aesthetic, stressing the objectivity of the medium and its ability to produce "a range of almost infinite tonal values which lie beyond the skill of the human hand."
The following year Strand served as an x-ray technician in the Army Medical Corps. After his year of service, he returned to New York and in 1920 collaborated with painter/photographer Charles Sheeler on the avant-garde film Manhatta (originally titled New York the Magnificent). Throughout the 1920s Strand made his living as a filmmaker, only occasionally making photographs. He pursued both film and creative photography in the 1930s and early 1940s; by 1945, however, when his images were featured in a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, still photography had once more become his primary focus. After visiting France in 1950 he decided to settle there, and over the following two decades traveled and photographed in Europe and Africa.
Strand's work has been widely exhibited. Retrospectives have been mounted by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1945), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1971, and tour), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1973), and numerous traveling exhibitions have been organized, including Paul Strand: An American Vision by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1990). He was named an Honorary Member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (1963) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1973). M.M.