Alfred Stieglitz (New York, United States, 1864-1946) captures in his photographs the vitality and energy of New York in the early twentieth century. This city, with its skyscrapers and its fast pace of life, looked, to many European artists, the very image of modernity. If, in the past, traveling to Europe was a rite of passage for American artists, New York would later become the destiny for European artists.
This is the first exhibition in Europe which examines Stieglitz’s contribution as a photographer to the development of modern American photography, where his relevance stands out upon discovering the public and American artists of that time, the most recent progress of the European avant-garde in the early twentieth century. An ardent supporter of innovative ideas and a man of many talents, Stieglitz stood out as a photographer, editor, curator and collector.
The exhibition begins its journey in 1905, when Stieglitz opens his first gallery, The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, soon to be known as "291". The 291 Gallery soon became a meeting place for artists and intellectuals, the centre of exchanges dedicated to art and theoretical development, as reflected in the pages of the magazine Camera Work, present in this exhibition, which Stieglitz published between 1902 and 1917. From 1908 until 1917 the gallery presented an unprecedented succession of exhibitions, crucial in Stieglitz's struggle for photography to be recognised as an autonomous art form, worthy of being exhibited alongside other arts. Initially with Max Weber’s help and later with Eduard Steichen and Marius de Zayas’, Stieglitz organised the first exhibitions in North America on Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Douanier Rousseau, Gino Severini and on African sculpture. The work by these artists, which the American public had the opportunity to discover for the first time, was the subject of much controversy and sparked much debate among conservative critics.
This exhibition includes many pieces that were exhibited then, as well as partial reconstructions of some of the installations that were assembled in Gallery 291. A selection of photographs allows for an appreciation of the evolution and influence of Stieglitz’s art, from 1889 Pictorialism up to the so-called "straight photography" from 1937, ending ten years before his death, coinciding with the cessation of his activity as a photographer.
Musée d'Orsay, Paris (19 October, 2004 - 16 January, 2005)