Alfred Stieglitz

American photographer (1864–1946)

Alfred Stieglitz (January 1, 1864 – July 13, 1946) was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form.

Alfred Stieglitz in 1902 by Gertrude Käsebier

Quotes edit

  • Photography is not an art. Neither is painting, nor sculpture, literature or music. They are only different media for the individual to express his aesthetic feelings.. .You do not have to be a painter or a sculptor to be an artist. You may be a shoemaker. You may be creative as such. And, if so, you are a greater artist than the majority of the painters whose work is shown in the art galleries of today.
    • 'Is Photography a Failure?', Alfred Stieglitz, 'Sun: 5.', March 14, 1922; as quoted on Wikipedia
  • Atmosphere is the medium through which we see all things. In order, therefore, to see them in their true value on a photograph, as we do in Nature, atmosphere must be there. Atmosphere softens all lines; it graduates the transition from light to shade; it is essential to the reproduction of the sense of distance. That dimness of outline which is characteristic for distant objects is due to atmosphere. Now, what atmosphere is to Nature, tone is to a picture.
    • In: 'A Plea for Art Photography in America', Alfred Stieglitz, in 'Photographic Mosaics,' Vol 28, 1892: About Pictorialism.
  • Photography as a fad is well-nigh on its last legs, thanks principally to the bicycle craze.
    • Alfred Stieglitz (1887), in the American Annual of Photography 1897.
  • to show that [the success of my portray-] photographs was not due to subject matter – not to special trees or faces, or interiors, to special privileges – clouds were there for everyone.. .I wanted to photograph clouds to find out what I had learned in forty years about photography. Through clouds to put down my philosophy of life.. .My aim is increasingly to make my photographs look so much like photographs that unless one has eyes and sees, they won't be seen – and still everyone will never forget them having once looked at them.
    • 'How I came to Photograph Clouds', Alfred Stieglitz, in 'Amateur Photographer and Photography', (19 September 1923): 255.
    • about his new subject: 'clouds' in his long series 'Equivalents' he started in 1922
  • I know exactly what I have photographed [in his series 'Equivalents', 1925 - 1934]. I know I have done something that has never been done.. .I also know that there is more of the really abstract in some 'representation' than in most of the dead representations of the so-called abstract so fashionable now.
    • In a letter about his 'Equivalents' to w:Hart Crane; as quoted in Photography as High Art, Hilton Kramer, (1982-12-19)., in 'New York Times'. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-12-26; as quoted on Wikipedia.
  • There is a reality — so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. That's what I'm trying to get down in photography.
    • Alfred Stieglitz, as quoted in The Real Thing: Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture, 1880-1940, M. Orvell (1989). p. 220
  • I have always been a great believer in today. Most people live either in the past or in the future, so that they really never live at all. So many people are busy worrying about the future of art or society, they have no time to preserve what is. Utopia is in the moment. Not in some future time, some other place, but in the here and now, or else it is nowhere.
    • Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries, Sarah Greenough, Washington: National Gallery of Art. 2000, pp. 26–53; as quoted on Wikipedia
  • Nearly right is child's play
    • Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries, Sarah Greenough, Washington: National Gallery of Art. 2000, pp. 26–53; as quoted on Wikipedia
  • Man: [looking at a Stieglitz's photo of 'Equivalents'] Is this a photograph of water?
    Stieglitz: What difference does it make of what it is a photograph?
    Man: But is it a photograph of water?
    Stieglitz: I tell you it does not matter.
    Man: Well, then, is it a picture of the sky?
    Stieglitz: It happens to be a picture of the sky. But I cannot understand why that is of any importance.
    • In: 'Minor White, A Living Remembrance', Dorothy Norman, in 'Aperture', 1984, p. 9.
    • w:Dorothy Norman recorded a conversation between Stieglitz and a man, looking at one of his 'Equivalents' prints

'From Adams to Stieglitz' (1990) edit

In: From Adams to Stieglitz, w:Nancy Newhall (writings untill 1971), ed. Emanual Voyiaziaskis, Aperture Foundation, 1999
  • AS A KID I WAS PROMISED an America - An America I believed in - and I insist on living - and dying - in that America, even I have to create it myself.
    • in 'Alfred Stieglitz' Photo notes, August 1946, p. 65
  • When I make a photograph, I make love.
    • in 'Alfred Stieglitz' Photo notes, August 1946, p. 65
  • I am an American. Photography is my passion. The search for truth my obsession
    • in: 'Alfred Stieglitz' Photo notes, August 1946, p. 65

'Equivalents', for the museum of modern Art collection' 1943 edit

'Equivalents' for the museum of modern Art collection'; as quoted (May 1943) in 'Alfred Stieglitz' Notes for a Biography', w:Nancy Newhall, in From Adams to Stieglitz, ed. Emanual Voyiaziaskis, Aperture Foundation, 1999, pp. 108-09
1. Apples and Gable of the Farm, in Rain
My mother was dying. She was sitting on the porch that day. O'Keeffe [famous painter and his younger wife then] was around. I'd been watching this thing for years, wondering, 'Could I do it?' I did and it said something I was feeling.
3. And Dorothy's hands - what is it that they are? It's related to the other two. She didn't have any idea what I saw, just sitting there. That's the one w:Charlie Chaplin sat half an hour in front of, and said, 'Stieglitz, what you have gotten in that.' I didn't ask him what he saw.
4. And that - that's death riding high in the sky. All these things have death in them.. ('Ever since the middle Twenties', I said') ..Exactly, ever since I realized O'Keeffe couldn't stay with me.
7. Rainbow
And that's something I never thought I'd get. Never been done before. Oh, they've made pictures of rainbows, yes - but not that

Quotes about Alfred Stieglitz edit

  • Stieglitz, in America through photography, has shown us, as far as possible, the objectivity of our outer world. I speak of that photography in which the genius of man leaves to the machine its full power of expression. For it is only thus that we can reach a comprehension of pure objectivity. Objective truth takes precedence over Stieglitz in his work. By means of a machine he shows us the outer life.
  • Then, one afternoon he turned me [Stieglitz, in 1941] loose, alone, among the several boxes of [his photo-series:] 'w:Equivalents'. He had learned to trust me.. ..A couple of hours later I came out in tears. I had been through a tremendous experience. It was like the thunderstorm I felt in my head once in Paris.. ..Music has done this to me many times, but though I already deeply loved photographs, nothing like this had happened to me before.. .Stieglitz, amused and compassionate, waited until I could speak..
    • w:Nancy Newhall, in: 'Alfred Stieglitz' Notes for a Biography, July 1941, in From Adams to Stieglitz, ed. Emanual Voyiaziaskis, Aperture Foundation, 1999, p. 107
  • ..he persisted in following his instinctive feeling that the photographic image was more beautiful than anything the human hand could do to it. In the middle of his activities [for 'w:Photo-Secession' and 'w:291 (magazine)' ], he still found time to greet the new [20th] century with the penetrating tenderness that characterizes his work - photographs of a locomotive, an airplane, of the rising changing city, and the Steerage, that strange picture of immigrants returning to Europe, with his prophetic split organization of form.
    • w:Nancy Newhall, in: 'Alfred Stieglitz' Photo notes, August 1946, in From Adams to Stieglitz, ed. Emanual Voyiaziaskis, Aperture Foundation, 1999, p. 67
  • It seems odd to think of you at 'Lake George' tonight – I can smell the outdoors – and hear it – and see the stars – So often before I went to bed at night I would walk out toward the barn and look at the sky in the open space. There was no light little house – there were no people – there was only the night – I will never go back again – maybe to stand just for a moment where I put the little bit that was left of Alfred [Stieglitz], her husband] after he was cremated – but I think not even for that. I put him where he would hear the lake. – That is finished.
    • Georgia O'Keeffe, in a letter to William Howard Schubart, (nephew of her death husband, Alfred Stieglitz), Abiquiu, New Mexico, August 4, 1950; as quoted in Voicing our visions, -Writings by women artists; ed. Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York, 1991, pp. 228-29

External links edit

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