Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand @ the Metropolitan museum

wow what a triumvirate of photography i thought when i heard of this exhibit being put on by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. this is going to be something special to see i told mary on our way up to the museum on a cold February afternoon.

when we were in paris we had an opportunity to see Steichen’s the ‘Conde Nash years‘ exhibit at the Musee de l’Elysee and i recently bought the accompaning  book as the one at the show was in french and i don’t read french. the photos in that show were marvelous along with a movie taken during one of his photo shoots. talk about lights, wires, cameras everything was huge. a portrait of Gloria Swanson under a hat net was fabulous in person, really popped out at you, but given the restrains of book printing it looks ordinary in the book.


Gloria Swanson



see video of exhibit from florida

well this show considering who is represented is ordinary i was quite disappointed. the last major exhibit we saw in the photographic exhibit space was Robert Franks ‘The Americas’ which took up the four rooms and the hallway. the Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand exhibit only took up three rooms and the hallway. oh well

with Stieglitz being the oldest and father figure of the group encouraging their exterminating with new mediums and styles and giving them a place to publish their work in Camera Work, a copy which is under glass at the exhibit but can be purchased as a complete book on-line or in stores. Stieglitz is in the first of the rooms. in a way i thought each of these photographers could have filled the entire space with their own work. Stieglitz had early New York City and Georgia O’Keeffe to photograph, not bad subjects at all especially O’Keeffe’s hands, very powerful.


5th Ave








O'keeffe figure study



but to see the actual prints of these photographers and maybe a glimpse of their creative minds is pretty cool. what were they thinking comes to mind. in this digital world we are living in, i think some of what is important THE PRINT is being lost. seeing Steichen’s three prints of ‘The Flatiron” building side by side was very informative. Steichen used a mixed process of Gum bichromate underneath a Platinum print as his background as a painter made him willing to mix processes to achieve a desired effect.


The Flatiron



The Flatiron



mary and i both looked at each other after reading this repeating our in joke ‘he’d never get to be a member of Soho Photo with antics like this.’ which comes from my experience with their membership committee when i was denied membership due to one white mat not matching the others in the portfolio. never mind the attitude that the photo asks for, no really demands a certain paper or process. oh well i can’t open a closed mind nor would i care to look inside of one.

my first exposure to photography books was ‘The Family of Man’ which Steichen produced while at The Museum of Modern Art to coincide with the photographic exhibit hailed as the most successful exhibition of photography ever assembled in 1955. way before my developing mind could grasp the concept. i was just beginning to see girls never mind a family of men.

Paul Strand had a whole other artistic direction, although he to was a painter, where he began to develop his belief in the humanistic value of portraiture. not that he didn’t take pictures of his surroundings traveling around mexico and new england  but i think we engage what we see or is it the other way around.



Mexican children



Wall street



the whole exhibit as small as it is, is about coming of age see the nytimes review and if you’re at least bit interested in photography i suggest dropping by and seeing for yourself these outstanding prints. remember the Metropolitan Museum od Art is a pay what you can museum.

have a good day




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