The Schmooze

How American Photography Became European Art

In “Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art pulls from its own collection to present the work of three heavyweights of American photography: Alfred Stieglitz, founder of the influential 291 gallery, and two of his protégés, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand. The show, on through April 10, 2011, gives each photographer his own room, accentuating their individual styles and obsessions, while allowing a closer look at the cross-pollination that took place in the early part of the 20th century.

A son of Jewish immigrants, Stieglitz grew up in Manhattan but spent his early adulthood soaking up European culture in Germany, the homeland of his parents. By 1900, Stieglitz was a force in American photography, and the granddaddy of the Photo-Secession, a group of artists who broke with the establishment and sought to fashion photography into an independent art form.

The Met credits Stieglitz with the foundation of its photography collection; in 1928 he donated 22 of his own works to the museum — the first to enter the collection as pieces of art. Stieglitz’s images play with ideas that are now fixtures of modern photography: subjects close at hand, a concentration on light, shadow and form, and a desire to create an emotional reaction in the viewer.

View a slideshow from ‘Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand’:

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How American Photography Became European Art

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