Edward Steichen (Luxembourg, 1879 - Umpawa, USA, 1973) is one of the most prolific and influential figures in the history of photography. In this first major posthumous retrospective of the artist in Europe his many contributions to various photographic fields are shown. The nearly 300 original photographs of this retrospective include the extraordinary diversity of his work, the result of a seventy-year career, over which the artist covered the main genres of this medium.
Said to be "the best photographer of all time", Steichen's photographic career can be divided into three distinct stages: the pictorialist period until the First World War, which includes his nudes, portraits and deeply symbolic and atmospheric landscapes, the modern period between the Wars, characterised by an imagery of the industrial age, of great strength, clarity and precision, and the exhibition period, after the Second World War, during which he produces monumental exhibitions.
Steichen was born in Luxembourg but he soon moves with his family to the United States. At sixteen he begins his career as a photographer and at twenty-one he moves to Paris, where he studies painting and collaborates with Alfred Stieglitz in establishing the Photo-Secession group and his publication Camera Work. In New York both photographers open Gallery 291 where they show the American public the art of Rodin, Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. From his position as chief photographer at Vanity Fair and Vogue, the two magazines that marked U.S. and European style and glamour, he would set the aesthetic standards of fashion photography.
During the Second World War he innovates in the field of war photography and after the War, now a key figure of modern photography, Steichen sets his sights on organising major exhibitions, assuming the management of the Department of Photography at the MOMA in New York. There he organises his greatest work, the collection The Family of Man (1955) with 500 photographs on fraternity and human commitment in 68 countries, which is now part of the permanent collection at the Château de Clervaux (Luxembourg), the only exhibition on the UNESCO World Heritage list and whose virtual reconstruction is included in this retrospective. In 2006 one of Steichen’s photographs set the record for the highest price paid for a photograph at auction to date.
Jeu de Paume, Paris (October 9 - December 30, 2007); Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland (January 17 - March 23, 2008); Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia, Italy (April 12 - June 8, 2008)