Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer born on 1st January 1864, Hoboken, New Jersey. Son of Jewish immigrants from Germany he studied at Charlier Institute, one of the best school in New York. He studied at a public school so that he can attend City College, where one of his uncles taught.
Stieglitz with his family moved to Europe when his father recognized that American school are too easy for him and only a school in his homeland would do any good. While in Germany, Alfred Stieglitz was admitted to Realgymnasium, Karlsruhe.
In 1882, he joined Technische Hochschule, Berlin to study mechanical engineering. He began to take interest in photography after meeting Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, his chemistry teacher and a researcher in the field of photography. He then bought a camera and started photographing peasants, countryside and landscapes.
In 1887, a new english magazine, The Amateur Photographer published his first article “A Word or Two about Amateur Photography in Germany”. After the first publication he started writing articles on technical aspects of photography for different magazines in Germany and UK. Stieglitz entered himself in a annual holiday photography contest hosted by the magazine. He received first prize for his photograph The Last Joke, Bellagio. After winning this and other photography competitions he started getting recognition in UK and Germany and various magazines started publishing his photographs.
Stieglitz father helped him purchase a photography related business, Photochrome Engraving Company though the business didn’t make much profit. In 1892, he captured The Terminal and the Winter, Fifth Avenue, two of his exceptional images that further heightened his fame. In 1983, Stieglitz accepted a job as a co-editor of The American Amateur Photographer Magazine.
A Venetian Canal, The Net Mender and A Wet Day on the Boulevard, Paris, are some of his famous work from 1894. After being elected as one of the first two American member of the Linked Ring, Stieglitz resigned as editor of The American Amateur Photographer and the Photochrome Company to pursue his mission of amalgamating the only two photographer societies of New York, the Society of Amateur Photographers and the New York Camera Club.
The two clubs united in 1896 and Alfred Stieglitz became the vice president of the new organization. To promote the artists’ works and writings, he proposed the idea of substituting the Club’s newsletter by a magazine. Its first issue entitled Camera Notes, was published in July, 1897. In 1899, Stieglitz had his first one-man show at the Camera Club. Later, he resigned from the post of Camera Notes’ editor.
In 1902, Stieglitz organized a show at Arts Club that displayed the artworks by his friends. The exhibit was a huge success. In December, Camera Work, a new magazine by Stieglitz started its publication that purely focused on photography.
Followed by a mental and physical exhaustion caused by the extreme devotion to Camera Work, on 25 November 1905, Stieglitz organized Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, exhibiting prints by 39 artists. He became a promoter of modern art. His collaborated work with Clarence H. White is a distinction. The Steerage; a depiction of bow ship loaded with passengers, is among the most significant photographs of 20th century.
Financial problems caused a temporary closure Little Galleries; restored in 1908 entitled 291. The National Art Club organized Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art that displayed Stieglitz’s prints along with the work of other major photographers and painters. In 1910, he organized a show for Albright Art Gallery, covering more than six hundred stunning prints by various artists. When the World War I broke out, Stieglitz struggled to keep Camera Work publication active. He released a new journal, 291.
In 1916, he met Georgia O’Keeffe. He was stunned by her work and displayed her show at 291. In 1922, he produced a series, Music – A Sequence of Ten Cloud Photographs. In 1925, he founded The Intimate Gallery. Later he established An American Place; a new gallery, where in 1932, Stieglitz had his major retrospective.
Alfred Stieglitz passed away on 13th July 1946 due to a fatal heart attack and coma. His wife, O’Keeffe was in authority of his belongings and artworks, which she donated to various museums and galleries.