Edward Steichen, ‘The Maypole’, 1931, Caviar20

Is there a photographer more revered or more influential than Edward Steichen (1879-1973)?

He can be easily credited as the patriarch of the art form as he was both a creator and a curator.

Working with Alfred Stieglitz, they opened the first gallery devoted to photography - eventually called the 291 (after its New York address).

During the early 20th century he both contributed his works to the prestigious Camera Work magazine but also advertising agencies and magazines such as Vogue and the early Vanity Fair. Because of this "commercial" work he would become the highest paid and best known photographer.

Steichen continued his influence in the photography world when he became the the Director of the Photography department at the MoMA, a position he held for nearly 20 years. During his time he curated the legendary "The Family of Man" exhibit which was wildly popular attracting some 9 million visitors.

Steichen's vintage prints can easily command six-figures or more. This image, "The Maypole" which depicts New York's Empire State Building, was created in 1932 about a year after its opening. At the time, the tower would be the tallest in the world. (It would loose this distinction in 1970 when the World Trade Centre opened its doors) It is one of several iconic images that Steichen created of New York architecture.

In 1981 Joanna Steichen, working with famed photographer and printer George Tice, issued a portfolio of a selection of iconic images by her late husband shot between the years 1903-1936. This print is from the portfolio - which has been the only official posthumous release from Steichen's estate.

Signature: Signed by Joanna T. Steichen and George Tice on label verso. Printed 1981.

About Edward Steichen

Though he is immortalized as one of the greatest photographers of his time, it was Edward Steichen's early roots as a painter that allowed him to so drastically influence the photographic medium. “The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each to himself,” he theorized. Steichen’s attempt and ultimate success to gain recognition for photography as an art form, alongside his contemporary and Photo-Secession cofounder Alfred Stieglitz, employed a Pictorialist approach distinguished by dreamlike, soft-focused images that reflected the accepted style and principles of other art forms. A later stint as an aerial photographer during WWI led Steichen to adopt a Modernist vision—he would turn to straightforward, clean lines in his work thereafter, moving on to work in commercial photography and become an acclaimed pioneer of fashion photography.

American, 1879-1973, Bivange, Luxembourg