HEN IN AMERICA THE SOCIETY for Amateur Photographers merged with the New York Camera Club in 1897, Alfred Stieglitz recognized an opportunity to inaugurate a publication that would promote the efforts of the Pictorialists to a larger audience as well as stimulate artistic efforts in photography. He presented a plan for an illustrated quarterly that would replace their leaflet, Journal. The new publication Camera Notes became his vehicle.
Stieglitz demanded that the plates in Camera Notes serve as more than a record of what was being produced in the photographic world; they had to "interpret fully the spirit and quality of the original print." The photogravure process was uniquely suited to reproduce these subtle prints. Many of the gravure plates in Camera Notes and later in Camera Work were made from positives, made from the original negatives. Because they were often supervised and sometimes even etched and printed by the artists themselves, these gravures were considered equivalents to the original prints.
|Frank Eugene. 1865-1936. |
Mr. Alfred Stiegletz. 1909.
Photogravure print. 16.4 x 11.2 cm
After suffering from a low tolerance to political pressure, Stieglitz resigned as editor of Camera Notes and in 1903 launched his own publication, Camera Work. Camera Work is today considered to be the single best-known example of gravure printing. It so successfully simulated the tonal and tactile qualities of the Pictorialist printing style, that in 1904 when the Photo-Secession contribution to an exhibit in Brussels failed to arrive on time, Camera Work gravures were hung in their place. The show was a great success, however it was not generally known that the prints were gravures until the show was over.
Today, Camera Work is credited as the mechanism that enabled Stieglitz and his followers to succeed in their mission to have photography recognized as a legitimate fine art.