Steichen Edward Steichen -- His Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

(Steichen and Sandburg, 2002) Although the paintings from this period are less well remembered by posterity than his photographs they are still striking in their design and were formative in his conceptualization of himself as an artist and his later arrangement of his photographic subjects. ("Steichen as Painter," National Gallery of Art, 2005)

For instance, like the revelation of a painting, 'true' Swanson emerges in her photograph more vividly through the haze of lace than would a perfect shot of the young actress' beauty, just as the true "George Washington Bridge, 1931's" expanse of loneliness and cold, steely beauty illuminated in the darkness of that photograph speaks deeply about what the surface represents about modern city life, as well as what it looks like to an outsider's eyes. This iconic quality of his photographic work has also caused Steichen to be called an early albeit unintentional pioneer of what was to become graphic art. (Smith, 1999)

After the war, from 1923 to 1938, Steichen became the chief photographer for two fashion magazines, Vanity Fair and Vogue, another example of his early bridging between the then-chiasmic gulf between popular and high art. Steichen became a member of the Photo-Secession, a group first formed in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz, another American photographer. The group actively promoted photography as a fine art, rather than a merely popular or personal reproductive art. (Hagen, 2005)

Early on, Stieglitz functioned as Steichen's mentor, but later Steichen later helped Stieglitz publish the revolutionary magazine Camera Work. The two men also worked together in organizing art exhibits in New York City. From 1947 to 1962, Steichen directed the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He assembled a famous exhibit there in 1955 called "The Family of Man," which consisted of 503 photographs of people throughout the world. (Hagen, 2005) to the end of his life he strained to merge and marry different media, such as his collaboration with his brother-in-law Carl Sandburg on a photographic rendering of the poem "Desiderata," called the Family of Man, and his biographical portraits of famous historical, cinematic, and literary figures.

Penelope Niven, one of Steichen's most recent biographers has called the man a paradox -- a painter who worked with the art of photography, a rebel who worked for iconoclastic magazines and popular fashion publications, and a European-born man with a European Impressionist sensibility who created America's 'corner' upon the world photographic market of celebrity photography. He knew many of the most famous people in the artistic world, yet was "stubbornly independent," he was rigorous in his study of different traditions yet was largely self-taught. (Niven, 1997) it is these contradictions that make the man such a fascinating and compelling figure even today. Open up a fashion magazine, or gaze at a work of the most cutting-edge young artist to emerge from an MFA program and find one's self gazing at Steichen's pervasive influence.

Works Cited

Flatiron NYC on a Rainy Night." Photograph by Edward Steichen. 1924. Image available online at http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=1205661015&c=&search=Edward+Steichen

George Washington Bridge: 1931." Photograph by Edward Steichen. 1931. Image available online at http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=1205661015&c=&search=Edward+Steichen

Gloria Swanson." Photograph by Edward Steichen. 1924. Image available online at http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=1205661015&c=&search=Edward+Steichen

Edward Steichen: Biography." (2004) Getty Museum. Museum Website. http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/bio/a1816-1.html

Hagen, Charles. "Steichen, Edward." World Book Online Reference Center. 2005. World Book, Inc. 12 Mar. 2005. http://www.aolsvc.worldbook.aol.com/wb/Article?id=ar531740.

Niven, Penelope. Steichen: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997.

Scarlet Poppy." Painting by Edward Steichen. 1920. Oil on canvas. From Steichen Family Collection

Smith, Joel. Edward Steichen. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Steichen, Edward and Carl Sandburg. The Family of Man. New York: Museum of Modern Art Press, reissue 2002.

Steichen the Painter." National Gallery of Art. 2005. Museum Website last updated 2005. http://www.nga.gov/feature/artnation/steichen/painter_1.shtm

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Flatiron NYC on a Rainy Night." Photograph by Edward Steichen. 1924. Image available online at http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=1205661015&c=&search=Edward+Steichen

George Washington Bridge: 1931." Photograph by Edward Steichen. 1931. Image available online at http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=1205661015&c=&search=Edward+Steichen

Gloria Swanson." Photograph by Edward Steichen. 1924. Image available online at http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=1205661015&c=&search=Edward+Steichen

Edward Steichen: Biography." (2004) Getty Museum. Museum Website. http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/bio/a1816-1.html

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