Alfred Stieglitz, ‘Portrait - K. N. R., No. 3’, 1923, Bowdoin College Museum of Art

At mid-career, Alfred Stieglitz abandoned the large cameras that he had previously used in favor of smaller handheld devices. This shift allowed the artist to choose more freely what to shoot. As a result, Stieglitz directed his gaze upward and recorded weather conditions at all times of the day and year. Stieglitz exhibited these six prints in his solo exhibition at the Anderson Galleries in early 1924. The New York Times described them as “a portrait of a friend of this artist scientist and philosopher, expressed through sky and tree.” In the same show Stieglitz exhibited a triptych portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe, composed of a straightforward headshot of his lover next to two exposures of clouds. Through such demonstrations the photographer attempted to evoke from the viewer the same feelings that his “sitters” had invoked in him.

Image rights: © 2016 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

"This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today"

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Alfred Stieglitz

Through his work and writing, photographer Alfred Stieglitz was instrumental in establishing photography as a recognized fine art form. Some of Steiglitz's best-known photographs are of the painter Georgia O'Keeffe (who would eventually become his wife), and in line with his belief that great photography “becomes more real than reality,” these close-up portraits convey as much about form as they do about her personality and their relationship. Stieglitz was feverishly devoted to his work and mission and produced thousands of editions in his lifetime, covering numerous themes that captured a period of rapid transition in American society. In 1905, he opened 291 Gallery in New York City to promote pioneering photographers and avant-garde European artists. Stieglitz achieved his goal to have photography shown alongside painting and, due to his efforts, is known as an important proponent of early modernism and not only as a promoter of photography.

American, 1864-1946, Hoboken, NJ, United States, based in New York, NY, United States