Steichen: A Recent Acquisition at the Whitney Museum

If the greatness of an artist is measured with qualities such as wit mixed with a bit of extravaganza, personal taste and innovation, Edward Steichen must be deemed a great one. By working for Vanity Fair and Vogue during 1900s he brought a change into fashion photography. While the previous chief photographer – Baron Adolph de Meyer – worked with soft focus and painted backdrops to recreate a mood as similar as possible to paintings, the standard goal of the photography of the time, Mr. Steichen brought all the props away and made a dramatic use of lighting. An elegant yet honest way to portrait both celebrities and fashion stories that has definitely helped a new movement to emerge.

After working for the US Army during World War I, his photographic style has changed significantly. He started to focus on volumes and scale that gave his work a more abstract approach, leading him to become one of the most significant authorities in photography, crowned by his appointment as curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition is an exhibition curated by Carrie Springer for the Whitney Museum in New York, which celebrate the extraordinary donation by Richard and Jackie Hollander, a couple of art collectors. By including some of the most celebrated portraits and fashion photos taken during the time he worked for Condé Nast, images of nature as well as advertising campaigns, the show succeeds in demonstrating the role of Steichen as a leading proponent of photography, both for his research on the aesthetics and language of photography, as well as his uncompromising approach to commercial photography

The show runs through February 23th at the Whitney Museum in New York.

Francesca Crippa – Images courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art