Stieglitz, Alfred

Date/place of birth

1 January in Hoboken, New Jersey

Day/place of death

New York on 13 July 1946

Alfred Stieglitz - The Steerage
Alfred Stieglitz - The Steerage

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Alfred Stieglitz moved the art world like few others; the importance for the early 20th century of the extensive work of the American photographer and patron as creator and promoter can hardly be overestimated.

Alfred Stieglitz – free for art without material constraints

In terms of art history, the year 1864 began with the birth of Alfred Stieglitz: On the 1 January in Hoboken, New Jersey, one of the most important bridge-builders between the Old and New Worlds - which had just suffered from the shock of the end of the civil war - saw the light of day. The first-born son of German-Jewish immigrants hoped for a life without financial hardship and initially filled it with travels through Europe during which he found many opportunities to practice his early passion, photography. He first studied engineering in Berlin, but he was most interested in the photo-technical lessons of Hermann Wilhelm Vogel. A quick consequence of this highly fruitful lesson, which ultimately led to Alfred Stieglitz being regarded to this day as the most important pupil of the Berlin photo pioneer, was the first prize in a British photography competition, the jury of which also included Peter Henry Emerson. Stieglitz was only 24 years old at this point and would go on to receive around 150 other awards.

The ethic of the artistic photography

With his early work, Alfred Stieglitz orientated himself to Pictorialism and as a photographer, strived from the beginning to reach the valued rank of an artist. For this noble goal, Stieglitz founded Photo-Secession in 1902, a union of artistically ambitioned photographers, and opened his own gallery. With financial help from his family he also published the quarterly magazine Camera Work. Alfred Stieglitz renounced any form of retouching or post-treatment; to achieve the desired effect in his pictures he often endured hours in even the most adverse conditions. He photographed by wind and storm, in pouring rain and intense cold. The equipment and the technique were not the deciding factors, but the unerring instinct for the right moment. To capture this, he needed patience and stamina. And so world-famous photographs such as The Terminal, Winter on Fifth Avenue and Flatiron Building came into being.

A tireless patron of art

Together with Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz founded Gallery 291 where artists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Georges Braque and Marsden Hartley would meet. The most important encounter for Stieglitz, however, was with Georgia O’Keefe who not only modelled for him countless times, but who would become his lover, for whom he divorced his first wife of 24 years, Emmeline Obermeyer. The financial difficulties associated with the First World War led to the closure of Gallery 291, but in the 1920s he opened the Intimate Gallery and later An American Place, offering him and others a platform for their work. Among the numerous artists Alfred Stieglitz continually gathered around him and with whom he sought an incessant exchange were also many important literary figures such as William Carlos Williams. Never before or after have the visual and literary arts stood so close as under the bridge-builder and world-connector Stieglitz.

Alfred Stieglitz died in New York on 13 July 1946. His younger brother Julius Stieglitz made a name for himself as a chemist.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Alfred Stieglitz Prices

Alfred StieglitzThe Steerage€7.192
Alfred StieglitzThe Steerage€5.000
Alfred StieglitzTHE TERMINAL€3.840
Alfred StieglitzSPRING SHOWERS, NEW YORK€3.000
Alfred StieglitzTHE HAND OF MEN€2.640
Alfred StieglitzExcavating - New York€1.860

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