Imogen Cunningham
American, 1883-1976
Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Selected exhibitions
The Pritzker Center for Photography,
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Making Modern: Kahlo and Her Circle,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
In Focus: Play,
J. Paul Getty Museum

One of the first professional female photographers in America, Imogen Cunningham is best known for her botanical photography, though she also produced images of nudes, industrial landscapes, and street scenes. After studying photography in Germany, Cunningham opened a portrait studio in Seattle, producing soft-focus allegorical prints in the tradition of Pictorialism—a style of photography influenced by academic painting from the turn of the century—as well as portraiture. From the early 1920s she began to take close-up, sharply detailed studies of plant life and other natural forms, including a two-year-long, in-depth study of the magnolia flower. In 1932 she joined an association of West Coast modernist photographers known as f64, rejecting sentimental soft-focus subjects in favor of greater sensuousness. Cunningham was also interested in human subjects and frequently took pictures of …

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