Modern Photography


A general term used to encompass trends in photography from roughly 1910-1950 when photographers began to produce works with a sharp focus and an emphasis on formal qualities, exploiting, rather than obscuring, the camera as an essentially mechanical and technological tool. Also referred to as Modernist Photography, this approach abandoned the Pictorialist mode that had dominated the medium for over 50 years throughout the United States, Latin America, Africa, and Europe. Critic Sadakichi Hartmann’s 1904 “Plea for a Straight Photography” heralded this new approach, rejecting the artistic manipulations, soft focus, and painterly quality of Pictorialism and praising the straightforward, unadulterated images of modern life in the work of artists such as Alfred Stieglitz. Innovators like Paul Strand and Edward Weston would further expand the artistic capabilities and techniques of photography, helping to establish it as an independent art form.