Steichen Photography

Steichen Photography

Edward Steichen, painter and photographer, was one of America’s most influential artists in the modern age.

Edward Steichen(1879 – 1973) American (b. Luxembourg)
Studying art and showing an early interest in the techniques of lithography and photography, Steichen showed flexibility in shifting easily through styles and artistic themes. His experience of American and French culture, his partnerships and friendships with the emerging artists of the times as well as his work during the Great War as a battlefield photographer, made unique, realistic and at times somber works.

He began a partnership with Alfred Stieglitz and founded the Photo-Secession in 1902 – a close knot group of photographers that were published and promoted during the next decade. Steichen lived both in Paris and in New York, amongst immensely talented artists – Matisse, Rodin, Picasso, and Brâncuși. He became a promoter of European artists in America, selecting their works and exhibiting it overseas. Among it all, in 1911, Steichen even became, in a way, one of the world’s first fashion photographers, through his photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret.


Steichen’s view of Brâncuși’s studio is orchestrated, geometric, and objective. A corner of Brancusi’s studio shows several identifiable works, including “Cup” (1917) and “Endless Column” (1918), and the photograph’s centerpiece is the elegant polished bronze “Golden Bird” (1919) – centered, the light modulated, and the constellation of masses carefully balanced in the space defined by the camera. The spectral effect of this studio view is created by harsh light emanating from a floor fixture in the foreground. And surrounded by pedestals and works in progress, Brancusi.

Brancusi in His Studio from Edward Steichen – The Early Years 1900-1927
Steichen and Brâncuși, who met at Rodin’s studio, became lifelong friends. The photograph in his studio as well as the sculptor’s portrait find themselves not only among the most tender stills of Brancusi but also among the greatest portraits and photographic work of Steichen.
The key figure of twentieth-century photography and an influential curator, Steichen has been a chief photographer for Condé Nast from 1923 to 1938.
He was director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art from 1947 to 1962, and was responsible for more than fifty shows, including The Family of Man in 1955, the most popular exhibition in the history of photography.
Steichen received innumerable awards and honors, including Knighthood in the French Legion of Honor, an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Photographic Society, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Art Directors Club of New York Award, U.S. Camera Achievement Award for “Most Outstanding Contribution to Photography by an Individual,” (1949) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963).

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