The Two Trees, Rothenburg Coburn, Alvin Langdon  (American, 1882-1966)

After receiving his first Kodak at the age of eight, Coburn rose to prominence in his late teens and by his mid-twenties had established a friendship with George Bernard Shaw, who introduced the catalogue of his solo show at the Royal Photographic Society in 1907 by calling him "one of the most accomplished and sensitive artist-photographers now living." Coburn traveled extensively in America and Europe, and was granted membership in the British Linked Ring as well as the American Photo-Secession, both groups at the forefront of establishing and exploring photography as a fine art and including such giants as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. He collaborated with several literary figures (including Henry James), was one of the first to experiment in semi-abstract and abstract photography (Ezra Pound called Coburn’s technique of using mirrors to fracture and duplicate images "vortography," alluding to its Vorticist inspiration), and had important shows throughout the United States and Britain (including two solo-exhibitions at Stieglitz’s New York gallery) into the 1920s. In 1930 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, although by that time Coburn’s interest in mysticism, druidism, metaphysics, and freemasonry (ignited years earlier by a friendship with photographer George Davison) had come to supersede his fascination with photography.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Weaver, Mike. Alvin Langdon Coburn, Symbolist Photographer, 1882-1966: Beyond the Craft. New York: Aperture, 1986. p. 66


The Truthful Lens 37; Foster, Sheila J., et al. Imagining Paradise : The Richard and Ronay Menschel Library at George Eastman House, Rochester, p. 236;

Coburn, Alvin Langdon, Alvin Langdon Coburn : Photographer : An Autobiography, pp. 24-42.