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27-04-2007
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Edward Steichen - Photographer - Fashion Years 1923-1938
Edward Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer on both sides of the Atlantic (possibly the most famous photographer), when, in early 1923, he was offered possibly one of the most prestigious and certainly the most lucrative position in photography’s commercial domain – that of chief photographer for Condé Nast’s influential and highly-regarded magazines, Vogue and Vanity Fair. Though it meant a break with the high-minded art-for-art’s-sake ethos espoused by his mentor Alfred Stieglitz (a break viewed as treachery by Stieglitz and his friends), he leapt at the chance, having come to the conclusion that photography’s natural -- and therefore true -- function was utilitarian: a thoroughly modern means of human communication. For the next fifteen years, Steichen would take full advantage of the resources and prestige conferred by the Condé Nast empire to produce an oeuvre of unequalled brilliance, putting his exceptional talents and prodigious energies to work dramatizing and glamorizing contemporary culture and its achievers -- in politics, literature, journalism, dance, theatre, opera, and above all, the world of high fashion.

No other fashion photographer could rival Steichen for the range he covered: Chanel, Lanvin, Lelong, Alix, Gres, Piguet, Pacquin, Schiaparelli, and a host of other couturiers and couturieres saw their creations depicted creatively and convincingly by Steichen on the pages of Vogue. No other portrait photographer could rival Steichen for the number of bold, engaging studies he made of artists and statesmen for Vanity Fair. Who else could boast of having photographed so many of the world’s best filmmakers, actors, actresses, painters, athletes, playwrights, producers, poets, journalists, dancers, singers, writers?

The fashion plates Steichen produced make for a full archive of modernist fashion of the inter-war years. In the 1920s and 30s, Steichen created a new style of fashion photography, which had previously been a fussy, fuzzy pictorialist affair, out of step with the modernist ethos championed by the couturiers themselves, busily absorbing avant-garde currents of the time. Steichen’s first-hand exposure to progressive art on both sides of the Atlantic, and his own naturally eclectic bent, made him the ideal translator of couture into photography. His crisp, detailed, high-key style revolutionized fashion photography, and is a strong wind felt in the field to this day -- George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber are only his most illustrious descendants.

The full list of Steichen’s portraits is astounding for its range. Among the more than one thousand subjects were the filmmakers Cecil B. De Mille, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg, Josef von Sternberg and Walt Disney; among the actors, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Harold Lloyd, W.C. Fields and Rudolph Valentino; among the actresses, Shirley Temple, Gloria Swanson, Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich and Fay Wray; among the painters, Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault; among the writers, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, e.e. cummings, Luigi Pirandello and Collette; among the dancers, Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis and Fred Astaire; among the musicians, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Schakowsky, Vladimir Horowitz and George Gershwin; among the statesmen Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover; among the athletes, Jack Dempsey and Suzanne Lenglen; among the journalists Clare Luce, Walter Winchell and Walter Lippmann. Often the portraits of women artists and actresses double as fashion statements; Collette in Chanel; Hepburn in Schiaparelli, Swanson in Chanel.

The Steichen archive at Condé Nast contains more than two thousand original vintage prints. A few of the images are well-known and indeed feature as iconic images in various histories of photography. Never before, however, have more than a handful of these prints been exhibited or published. The 1920s and 1930s represent the high point in Edward Steichen’s photographic career, and the work he did for Condé Nast’s influential magazines will stand forever among the most striking creations of twentieth-century photography.





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27-04-2007
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One more... for the moment.


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27-04-2007
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Thank you for creating this gem of a thread

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27-04-2007
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may I just add hopw happy I am to see so many interwar period photogrphers having their threads at tfs now.
There is such a graphic nearly geometrical quality to steinchens pictures!

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27-04-2007
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Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face - the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited; and the wealth and confusion that man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.

- Edward Steichen

He has created truely inspiring imagery, whos work I always find myself returning to. Thank you for this! ...

I have a range of his images spanning from 1900-34, i will share, but just a question would you prefer to keep the images from the period in the thread title and only fashion work? ...

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27-04-2007
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^ everything. "behind the lens' includes all! no? if you have any images of his work in India...

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02-05-2007
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I'm back ... SomethingElse Unfortunately I don't have any of his work from India, Unfortunately I don't own a scanner, but i'll try to see if I can find some online ...

Here we go ...

Self Portrait, 1900


Dawn-Flowers, 1903


Pool, 1903


Self Portrait, c.1905

Howard Greenberg Gallery

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02-05-2007
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Flatiron Building, 1905


In Memoriam, 1906


Mother And Child - Sunlight, 1906


Rodin - Le Penseur, 1906

Same source

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02-05-2007
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I'll be back with more later ...

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02-05-2007
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I love the painterliness of the images you've posted so far, Multitudes. There is such dreaminess and peace in his portrait work, and his renaissance women take my breath away. Thanks a million for posting these! Sepia and black and white prints... heaven!

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04-05-2007
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^You're very welcome! ... yes the painterliness and the texture there is in the photographs is really beautiful. I also sometimes wonder about the technical aspect of the cameras back then, not that I have any knowledge about it, if that have something to do with it! I would imagine that the cameras back then wasn't that light secured, which might have something to do with the dark, dreamy atmospheric feeling there is in the photographs. The "Mother And Child - Sunlight, 1906" has a quite surreal and dreamy state over it and I think that this overexposure from the suns light maybe has something to do with it! but i don't know? ...

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Last edited by Multitudes; 04-05-2007 at 02:50 PM.
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04-05-2007
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More of his work ...

The Little Round Mirror, 1906


William M. Chase, 1906


Balzac - The Open Sky, 1911


Balzac - Towards The Light, Midnight, 1911

Howard Greenberg Gallery

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Steeplechase Day, Paris Grand Stand, 1913


Lotus, Mt. Kisco, New York, 1915


Self Portrait With Studio Camera, 1917


Wheelbarrow With Flower Pots, France, 1920

Same source

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04-05-2007
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so beautiful especially the 1st picture in #8

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04-05-2007
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Rodin's Balzac through Steichen's lens is supreme. Interesting how he names each of the Balzac images to describe the lighting. These are all amazingly beautiful. I have a friend who has done black and white for at least 50 years. I'll see what secrets he can divulge....

Oh goodie! I found some online too!



Henri Matisse and "The Serpentine", c. 1909



Gloria Swanson, c. 1924

masters-of-photography.com

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Last edited by SomethingElse; 04-05-2007 at 10:28 PM.
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