In The Flatiron Building, the provocative correspondence Stieglitz recorded between the foreground tree’s forking branches and the building’s distinctive triangular shape sets up a contrast between natural and man-made, but the tree—unlike the Flatiron Building—reaches up to extend beyond the picture frame. That, along with its darker tone, makes it as least as assertive as the building, with its angularity and energy. In his identification with the tree, Stieglitz made photographic compositions in which trees hold their own and even prevail over their urban settings. By photographing strong vital trees at a time when those along Manhattan streets were deemed either expendable or in need of preservation, Stieglitz identified with nature as a bulwark against the disruptions urbanism. Lukitsh
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