Photo-Secession Steichen, Edward  (American, 1879-1973)

Designed as a poster by Edward Steichen in 1905 to mark the opening of Alfred Stieglitz’s "Little Galleries" of the Photo-Secession, at 291 Fifth Avenue.

In connection with the inauguration of the galleries in the fall of 1905, Steichen created a poster showing a photographer silhouetted against a green field beneath a glimmering orb. Although Steichen’s design suggests that the photographer is a hunter who stalks his prey in a moonlit landscape, the actual model, a snapshot of Stieglitz hard at work on a city bridge with a Graflex camera, shows the telling difference between Stieglitz’s more urgent urban vision and Steichen’s more serene and sylvan poetics. [1]

The beautiful Art Nouveau style poster in many ways was the high water mark for the nineteenth century vision of art photography. Stieglitz and Steichen had mastered their craft and their work by this time had reached the heights of personal best, but the art world had changed in Europe. Impressionism, both French and English had been superseded by new movements. Post-Impressionism stressed design and composition over visual perception, Art Nouveau concentrated on line and graphic acuity, and a radical new group of painters in Paris, the Fauves, suggested that painting was a mere formal vehicle for individual expression, an idea that was catching on in Germany. Photography had to change in response to these new ideas and it was Steichen who urged Stieglitz towards twentieth century modernism through the modern art of Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse. [2]

Reproduced / Exhibited

Doty, Robert M. Photo-secession: Photography As a Fine Art. N.Y: Eastman, 1960. (cover)

Frizot, Michael. New History of Photography. Place of publication not identified: Pajerski, 1999. Print p. 313

Homer, William I, Catherine Johnson, and Alfred Stieglitz. Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession, 1902. London: Penguin Putnam, 2002. p. 32

Homer, William I. Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1983. no. 79.

MET Accession Number: 57.627.36

Nordström, Alison D, Thomas Padon, and J L. Ackerman. Truthbeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph As Art, 1845-1945. Vancouver, B.C: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. Print. p 43

Pohlmann, Ulrich. Frank Eugene: The Dream of Beauty. Munich: Nazraeli Press, 1996. no. 43.



[2] Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.