An edition of Alfred Stieglitz’s “The Steerage” (1907 ). Thought about one of the most crucial photographs of the 20th century, it captures lower-class passengers on the bow of a ship Stieglitz took to Europe that spring. Price quote: $4,000 to $6,000.
To be sold Jan. 16. Photo courtesy Bonhams Skinner.
Worldwide of fine art, photography is a new kid on the block (and certainly photos are relative beginners on the auction block). The very first fixed photographic images were made in the 1820s by the French pioneer cameraman Nicéphore Nièpce. His associate Louis Daguerre went on to develop the process called daguerreotype, that made photos popular and inexpensive.
For the next 100 years, there was a relentless attitude that photography was a smart mechanical procedure rather than a major form of artistic expression. A lot of significant museums didn’t have actually departments committed to photography up until late in the 20th century. (In Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art’s was founded in 1940; The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s, in 1992.) Couple of art galleries held exhibits of photos.
Early photography needed patience, cumbersome equipment and specialized technical knowledge. By the late 1800s, however, the procedure started to be equalized. In 1888, Kodak marketed its very first cam. It permitted anybody to press a button, take a photo and turn the process of developing the image over to an expert specialist. And you might have several copies at an economical rate.
Photographic images were regarded as an useful and convenient way of protecting particular kinds of information, such as a fantastic public occasion or a private record of how handsome a young couple looked on their big day. Artistic goals such as imagination, self-expression and even social commentary weren’t viewed as possible or perhaps legitimate goals of “taking a picture.”
Around 1900, attitudes began to alter. Along with the growing popularity of the amateur photo, photography as a fine art gained growing recognition. The same schools that thrived in painting– Pictorialism, Tonalism, Realism and Modernism– were checked out by men and women using significantly advanced tools and methods.
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) was a towering giant in the evolution of photography from a trade or a hobby to an art type. As well as an accomplished and respected photographer himself, he had massive influence as a mentor, writer and gallery owner. In addition, from 1897 to 1917 he was the editor of Video camera Notes and Camera Work, at the time the best photographic publications worldwide.
Stieglitz’ Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession– later called 291 for the gallery’s place at 291 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan from 1905 to ’17– began by featuring the work of Edward Steichen, Clarence H. White, Gertrude Käsebier and Alvin Langdon Coburn. As the significantly popular Stieglitz gallery progressed, he displayed photographic images alongside paintings and drawings by crucial contemporary artists, enhancing his goal of developing photography as an art type. (It was an objective that he continued pursuing in the next chapter of his life as he developed a professional and individual relationship with painter Georgia O’Keeffe.)
Collectors today continue to seek out the works by Stieglitz and his contemporaries that amazed collectors in the early 20th century. In addition to the Photo-Secessionists, art pictures by Ansel Adams, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Edward Weston and other modern-day masters are featured in Bonhams Skinner’s routine fine photography sales. One such auction will occur in January, with sneak peeks readily available in the Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, galleries.
If you wish to add to your own collection of this recent art form, or you have great pictures to consider consigning for sale, contact James Leighton ([email protected]). A picture is not only worth a thousand words; it might deserve countless dollars.
Contact Katie at [email protected] or 212-787-1114.