Edward Steichen

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Gepubliceerd op 12 mrt. 2008

Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879--March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator, born in Bivange, Luxembourg. His family moved to the United States in 1881 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1900.

Having established himself as a fine art painter in the beginning of the 20th century, Steichen assumed the pictorialist approach in photography and proved himself a master of it. In 1905, Steichen helped create the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession with Alfred Stieglitz. After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into fashion photography. Steichen's 1928 photo of actress Greta Garbo is recognized as one of the definitive portraits of Garbo.

During World War II, he served as Director of the Naval Photographic Institute. His war documentary The Fighting Lady won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary. After the war, Steichen served until 1962 as the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man in 1955, a vast exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries. Steichen's brother-in-law, Carl Sandburg, wrote the introduction for the exhibition catalog (ISBN 0-8109-6169-5). As had been Steichen's wish, the exhibition was donated to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is now permanently housed in the Luxembourg town of Clervaux.

In February of 2006, a copy of Steichen's early pictorialist photograph, The Pond-Moonlight (1904), sold for the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction, U.S. $2.9 million.

Steichen took the photograph in Mamaroneck, New York near the home of his friend, art critic Charles Caffin. The photo features a wooded area and pond, with moonlight appearing between the trees and reflecting on the pond. While the print appears to be a color photograph, the first true color photographic process, the autochrome process, was not available until 1907. Steichen created the impression of color by manually applying layers of light-sensitive gums to the paper. In 1904, only a few photographers were using this experimental approach. Only three known versions of the Pond-Moonlight are still in existence and, as a result of the hand-layering of the gums, each is unique. In addition to the auctioned print, the other two versions are held in museum collections. The extraordinary sale price of the print is, in part, attributable to its one-of-a-kind character and to its rarity.


... "By 1900 the adventurous and ambitious young man had saved enough funds to travel abroad to further his artistic studies and to pursue his ambitions as a painter and photographer. On his way to Paris Steichen stopped briefly in New York and visited Alfred Stieglitz, the dean of American pictorial photography at the time. This encounter would change both men's lives considerably. Stieglitz was not only impressed by Steichen's photographs.
Three of which he purchased, but was equally taken by the beauty of his paintings, drawings, and lithographs. Although Steichen initially went abroad to study painting at the Académie Julian, he spent very little of his two years in Europe at formal studio classes. Like all art students in Paris, he gravitated toward the Louvre. He also visited the Luxembourg Palace where he saw works by Monet, Manet, Pissarro, and Sisley. In addition, he saw paintings by Vincent van Gogh at an exhibition held by a fellow photographer in his studio.

In the fall of 1900 Steichen visited London where he met the American photographers Frederick Holland Day and Alvin Langston Coburn and participated in the New School of American Photography exhibition organized by Day. While in London he received his first big break, a commission to photograph the artist George Frederick Watts. Soon he was photographing the most famous artists and writers of his day including Fritz Thaulow, Alphonse Mucha, Franz Stuck, Paul-Albert Besnard, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Auguste Rodin."

More for his life:

26, the Moon and Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius, huddle together after midnight tonight. At their closest, they will be separated by about one degree, which is less than the width of a finger at arm's length.


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