Who Made Photography An Art Form?

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Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) was the first to establish photography as a form of artistic expression. At the turn of the twentieth century photography was popular, but had gained little respect from the art world because it was considered too simple. In fact, many painters depended on photography to assist them in creating their works and thus believed that photography could be nothing but a tool for "serious" art.

Stieglitz developed an interest in photography when he was just a toddler. At the age of two he became obsessed with a photo of his cousin and carried it with him everywhere he went. When he was nine he objected to a professional photographer's putting color in a black-and-white photo, complaining that it spoiled the quality of the print. In 1902 Stieglitz founded a movement known as the Photo-secession, and the following year he started publishing the photography magazine Camera Work. In New York City, Stieglitz opened three galleries, the 291 (1908–1917), the Intimate Gallery (1925–1930), and An American Place (1930–1946). He used the streets of New York as the subject of his work, becoming the first to give photography a uniquely American quality. Stieglitz married American painter Georgia O'Keefe (1887–1986) in 1924 and she became the subject of his most famous series of works. He inspired other great artists, many of whom became his followers.

Further Information: Alfred Stieglitz. [Online] Available http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/4357/stieglitz.html, October 23, 2000; Alfred Stieglitz. [Online] Available http://www.ip.pt/photoceania/alfred.htm, October 23, 2000; Goldberg, Vicki. Photography in Print. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1988; Langford, Michael John. Story of Photography. New York: Focal Press, 1980; Newhall, Beaumont. The History of Photography: 1839 to the Present Day. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1982.

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