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Edward Steichen

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Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen was born March 27, 1879 in Bivange Luxembourg. He died March 25, 1973, only two days from his ninety-fourth birthday. At the age of three his family made the voyage to the United States and by the age of twenty-one Edward was a naturalized citizen. He had deemed himself a fine art painter although this evidently did not suit him as he is said to have burned all his canvases by 1922 (oseculoprodigioso). Edward was a pictorialist, meaning he desired, along with other experimental practices, an effect akin to painting in his photographs, this seems fitting as he was a painter as well as photographer. He had been a practicing photographer since 1895 and was very good at achieving the pitorialist effect, giving his photographs depth and meaning, a life beyond that of the subject photographed.

Steichen was a pioneer. Along with Alfred Stiegletz, Edward was a major advocate of the acceptance of photography as a legitimate art form. Until the 20th century photography had been used for visual documentary not as a form of expression. Steichen was out to change this and he started with pictorialism. By using techniques such as soft focus and lens coating, as well an array of filters, darkroom maniqulation, and alternative printing process Edward was able to show not only that photography could be a form of self-expression but that it was just as free and artful as painting. In 1905 Steichen along with Alfred Stiegletz opened the first fine art photography gallery in the world. It was titled "The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession" later dubbed "291." This gallery along with a magazine published by Stiegletz had a substantial effect in that it brought fine art photography to the for front, placing it on a level equal with painting and sculpture.

During World War I Edward commanded the photographic division of the U.S. Expeditionary Forces(profotos). He was an integral part in the development of aerial photography during his command of the photographic division in World War I and would later assume the position Director of the Naval Photographic Institute during World War II. During his tour in World War II Steichen directed two show for the Museum of Modern Art, "The Road to Victroy" and "Power in the Pacific" as well as directing the documentary film "The Fighting Lady" which won an academy award for Best Documentary in 1944.

It was after the first World War that Edward began to loose interest in pictorialism. Already by 1911 he had begun to branch out, by breaking into the genre of fashion and commercial photography with Art de Decoration. During World War I Edward had been exposed to high definition photography and realized its potential. Steichen left pitorialism behind venturing into straight photography now preferring a cleaner more composed image. By 1923 he was working for Conde Nast publications, Vogue, Vanity Fair as well as doing freelance commercial work(iphf). By 1937 Steichen had grown weary of commercial and fashion photography.

Soon after his stint in World War II Edward was made Director of the Department of Photography for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was at this time that he began his work on arguably the most famous photographic exhibition of all time "The Family of Man." Steichen had traveled the world for three years collecting work from 273 photographers from 68 countries. Finally opening the show in January of 1955 the exhibit consisted of more than 500 photographs. The photographers gave up all rights of their photographs allowing Steichen to manipulated the images in any way he pleased in order to portray his message of the oneness of man. Touring for eight years through 37 countries the exhibit was estimated to be seen by some 9,000,000 people and can

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