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Stieglitz, Alfred (stēgˈlĭts), 1864–1946, American photographer, editor, and art exhibitor, b. Hoboken, N.J. The first art photographer in the United States, Stieglitz more than any other American compelled the recognition of photography as a fine art. In 1881 he went to Berlin to study engineering but soon devoted himself to photography. In 1890 he returned to the United States and for three years helped to direct the Heliochrome Engraving Company. He then edited a series of photography magazines, the American Amateur Photographer (1892–96), Camera Notes (1897–1902), and Camera Work (1902–17), the organ of the photo-secessionists, a group he led that was dedicated to the promotion of photography as a legitimate art form.
In 1905 he established the famous gallery “291” at 291 Fifth Ave., New York City, for the exhibition of photography as a fine art. Soon the gallery broadened its scope to include the works of the modern French art movement and introduced to the United States the work of Cézanne, Picasso, Braque, Brancusi, and many others. It also made known the work of such American artists as John Marin, Charles Demuth, Max Weber, and Georgia O'Keeffe whom Stieglitz married in 1924.
From 1917 to 1925 Stieglitz produced his major works: the extraordinary portraits of O'Keeffe, studies of New York, and the great cloud series through which he developed his concept of photographic “equivalents.” This concept greatly influenced photographic aesthetics. He then opened the Intimate Gallery (1925–30) and An American Place (1930–46), which continued the work of “291.” Through his own superb photographic work and his generous championship of others, he promoted the symbolic and spiritually significant in American art, as opposed to the merely technically proficient.
See S. Greenough, ed., My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz (2011); W. Frank et al., America and Alfred Stieglitz (1934); biographies by D. Bry (1965), D. Norman (1973), S. D. Lowe (1983), R. Whelan (1995), and K. Hoffman (2 vol., 2004–11); W. I. Homer, Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession (1983); S. Greenough, Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set (2002); C. Burke, Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salisbury (2019).
Born Jan. 1, 1864, in Hoboken, N.J.; died July 13, 1946, in New York City. American photographer and expert in the theory of art photography.
Stieglitz studied with the German photographer H. W. Vogel in Berlin from 1885 to 1890. An advocate of photography as an independent art form, Stieglitz urged rejection of the “imitation painting” approach and in 1902 founded the art organization Photo-Secession. He edited, among other publications, the magazine Camera Work (1902–17) and organized exhibitions where contemporary paintings and sculptures were shown along with photographs. Stieglitz’ work is typified by portraits and urban scenes that combine a photojournalistic approach with subtle lighting effects.