Cunningham, Imogen

Cunningham, Imogen,

1883–1976, American photographer, b. Portland, Oreg. Cunningham began taking pictures in 1901. After study abroad she opened a studio in Seattle in 1910 and for six decades produced an extraordinarily varied body of work including many strong, exquisite portraits. Cunningham was a member of the f/64 group (see photography, stillphotography, still,
science and art of making permanent images on light-sensitive materials.

See also photographic processing; motion picture photography; motion pictures.
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). In the late 1920s she began her celebrated series of plant photographs, which exhibit an unsurpassed pristine sensuality.


See Imogen Cunningham: Photographs (1970); P. Martineau, Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective (2020).

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Cunningham, Imogen

(1883–1976) photographer; born in Portland, Ore. She took a degree in chemistry from the University of Washington: Seattle and then went to work in the Seattle studio of Edward Curtis. After eight years assisting Curtis, she went to Dresden, Germany, to study photographic chemistry (1909–10), then returned to Seattle to set up her own commercial portraiture studio. She and her husband moved to San Francisco in 1917 (they had three children and were divorced in the 1930s) and there she spent most of the rest of her life; she continued working until only a week before her death. She was a founding member of Group f/64, which had its first exhibit at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum (San Francisco) in 1932, and her work was often shown in galleries and museums throughout the U.S.A. Working in the realistic or "straight" school of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, she was not especially a technical innovator but she is admired for her sharply focused black-and-white images, particularly her portraits and her nature studies.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.