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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 69 | volume XII | November-December, 2009



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 69November-December, 2009

Loneliness of the shape

– Alfred Stieglitz’s photography: from the realistic New York cityscape to an abstract impressionism –

p. 1
Nataša Sardžoska

Spring Showers – New York 1900 from Camera Work 36 – 1911. National Gallery of Art, New York.

    Alfred Stieglitz (1864 -1946) was raised in a brownstone on Manhattan's Upper East Side of New York City; even as an American photograph with German origins, he lived fully the inter-cultural imprinting of his European artistic background and of his artistic evolution in New York. His family moved in to Berlin where Stieglitz studied mechanical engineering but soon, impressed by the landscapes of the Dutch seacoast and Germans forest he started shooting photographs. That is how his return to New York was truly fertile: he became publisher and editor of some important revues such as American Amateur Photographer and the Camera Club of New York, known as an art periodical called simply Camera Work (1903), which will incorporate various art articles, photographs, reproductions of American and European photographers and essays. “Camera Work was the most luxurious and expensive photographic journal of its days (…) it was the most advanced American periodical devoted to the arts”.[1] Homer says as well that thanks to the Camera Work review the mysteries of modern art for the American elite audience were unraveled. In fact, we will see later on, Stieglitz is important in the history of photography and art history has revalued photography by giving its enormous and unlimited freedom of picturesque expansion. He had redefined the photography through the revelation of its intrinsic relationship with other visual art. Whelan in the biography of Stieglitz explains, actually why the Steiglitz photograph discourse was particular. He said that “the camera naturally surpassed even the most talented painter in the accurate depiction of form” and that it is practically pointless for painters to try to do what photography does better – and that on the other hand it was pointless that the photography tries to repeat the “(…) second-rate illustration”[2]. Stieglitz’s scientific method consisted in confusing artistic gender in a photographical insight and in giving the idea of mix between an impressionistic overview and perhaps some sort of Japanese – occidental reproduction of the landscape.

O'Keefe, 1918.

    His early photographs were an inter-text of the European picturesque style, while his late work was focalized in depth on a few subjects, including the urban sights of the New York City. His other production, such as the cloud cycle, that he called Equivalents, was an explicit challenge of the metaphysical representation of the immaculate possibilities of the light-condensation. The cycle of portrait series of his wife, the controversial painter Georgia O'Keeffe


1. HOMER, William Innes, Alfred Stieglitz and the American Avant-Garde, Boston New York Graphic Society 1977, p. 38.
2. WHELAN, Richard, Alfred Stieglitz: a biography, Little, Brown and Company Canada Limited 1995, p. 277.

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