31 Alfred Stieglitz Facts: The Most Creative Photographer!

Oluwatosin Michael
Feb 29, 2024 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Jan 10, 2022
Alfred Stieglitz's contribution is one of the major reasons why photography is considered an art form.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

Alfred Stieglitz is regarded as an important figure because of his contributions to the field of photography in the early years of invention and modernization.

He even made contributions to modern art forms and led the formation of the base for contemporary art. His contribution to American culture has been the establishment of photography as an art form.

It was after establishing himself as a contributor of photography as an art form, Alfred Stieglitz, moved back to New York City and changed how photography was viewed by society. His contributions were greatly appreciated and acknowledged as his name was inducted in the International Hall of Fame for contributions in photography, its chemistry, artwork, and much more.

Read on for some facts on the contribution of Alfred Stieglitz in making photography an accepted art form. Afterward, also check Alexa Canady facts and Alfred Nobel facts.

Early Life And Education

Alfred was the first child of his parents Edward Stieglitz and Hedwig Ann Werner who were German-Jewish immigrants. Belonging to a family with German origins, there was great emphasis on his education.

In 1880, his family decided that his higher education must take place in Germany and sent him there. Stieglitz began his study of mechanical engineering there. He studied in different universities till he was able to get his hands on his first camera in 1883. During this time, he built his understanding and passion for photography as he studied under the guidance of notable physicists and chemists to hone his skills.

Stieglitz began to love the images as soon as he looked at them for the first time. Hermann Wilhelm Vogel was a photographic chemist who worked at Polytechnic University in Germany. When Stieglitz got wind of a course on photographic chemistry being taught at Polytech University, he took admission there and pursued his interest.

Fresh Interest In Photography

His interest in photography developed as soon as he purchased his first camera. The professor at Polytechnic University, upon seeing his keen interest in the field and knowing that Alfred had a background in understanding chemistry, gave him permission to access the darkroom all days of the week.

All he had to do was maintain the laboratory in return for this extended stay in the black room. Under his training, Alfred learned the mysteries and tricks behind making error-free negatives for all colors, apart from red. It was not until 1884 that he understood the use of orthochromatic-based plates. He continued to work with an increased passion for photography and made strides in this art form. Even though his photographs were much appreciated by those around him, it was often stated that photographs are inferior to handmade paintings as it is the machine that does the main work in every photo.

This encouraged Alfred Stieglitz to try and establish photography as an accepted and admired form of art. P. H. Emerson gave the inspiration by showcasing his own theory of his artistic photography and his fight towards establishing it as a known artwork. In order to make his claim, Alfred started working on the difficult new platinum-influenced process. The new technique was different in terms of the process of transfer of image and if done properly and with the correct texture of paper, the photograph would look like a painting. He experimented with adding uranium or mercury to ensure that there is no spoilage and the range of tone remained at the right levels.

He even experimented with various other new processes which enabled him to produce large ink photos. He continued his work with utmost dedication and passion for almost 30 years. During this time, he published several findings in various photographic journals and continued his work on the platinum process. In 1980, Alfred Stieglitz moved back to New York City to further his work after he felt that his work in Germany was established and that he had gained an international reputation for the work he had done so far.

As a young photographer, Stieglitz Alfred contributed much to the subject matter of photography.

Career Journey

As Alfred Stieglitz moved to New York, he wanted to take his work further and establish important bases for the same.

His company, which was eventually renamed Photochrome Engraving Company, was not the kind of business that Alfred wished to run. Out of respect for his father’s wishes, Alfred continued to run the company while finding time to continue his work in the photography field too.

New York had more resources and technologies that could help him make promising strides in the field. He used the tools of the Camera Club in New York City. He made camera notes for modern art. He regarded the Camera Club as an art institute. In New York, photography was an acceptable art form.

Even though there were many who rejected and opposed the idea of a small camera, Alfred decided to experiment with that too. As he continued to work with the small camera, he met and married Emmeline Obermeyer. In 1890, he finally exhibited his work and received much appreciation and several awards. Still, he was not satisfied as there were many who did not regard photography as a science and art form. In the US, he founded the Photo-Secessionist and Pictorialist photography movements.

He soon established a group, known as the Photo-Secession Group (1902), to bring together like-minded individuals and to take the succession of photography forward. This was the first time that a member of the Stieglitz family had done something unconventional. The photo secession helped pace the work. His gallery not only included photographs but also exhibited the work of various painters and writers. Eventually, it was Alfred who brought the trend of modern art to America. Over time, like in most groups, conflicts started to occur within the Photo-Secession group.

However, Stieglitz continued to focus on his work. As he became more immersed in his work, his family life suffered, as a result of which his marriage came to an end. Eventually, his camera work also shut down, but his passion for photography enabled him to continue his work. He created amazing pieces of art over the years. After being struck by a tragedy, Alfred met Georgia O'Keeffe who he later married. As he continued his work and experimented with different materials, he developed more than 300 images of Georgia O'Keeffe. As the First World War approached, he had to shift from platinum paper to palladium paper.

He developed new images on this paper and experimented with the process by developing photos of his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe. He now wished to explore newer grounds and therefore took his photography to the next level. Instead of just clicking pictures of Georgia O'Keeffe, he started to take pictures of the sky. These photos made it impossible to distinguish between the sky and clouds in it. For this challenge, he started using silver gelatin paper and derived inspiration from Paul Strand. Soon he founded a new series of photography and named them 'Equivalents'.

At first, Paul Strand took inspiration from his fellow artist Alfred's darkroom photographs but as paintings of Picasso came to rise, he took a more artistic view for his photography. Alfred Stieglitz made fine art. Right from his early life, his devotion to this field stayed persistent. He even began pictorial photography via his camera work. Famous art dealers referred to his photographs as American art. Alfred acknowledged his fellow artist Paul Strand by dedicating his last two camera work to the art of the new emerging artist.

Legacy In Photography

Stieglitz continued his fight to establish photography as a respectable art till 1946, which is when he passed away. Stieglitz Alfred was honored by being inducted in the Hall of Fame for Photography and also in the Metropolitan Museum.

He even drew inspiration from Pablo Picasso to improve the quality and texture of the photographs he developed and use cameras to capture everything in the surroundings. Stieglitz's reputation grew even after his demise as the contributions he had made formed the historical pillar for future artists. He had made many contributions to modern art, he joined the national arts club, found room in the intimate gallery and the national gallery to exhibit photography. Stieglitz believed that pictorial schools and his work would contribute greatly to modern photography, along with the work of other modern artists to create famous photographs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Alfred Stieglitz facts, then why not take a look at Albert Bandura facts, or Albert Camus facts?

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

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Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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