imago images/Historical Views

Alfred Stieglitz: Redefining Photography as an Art Form

Discover the transformative work of Alfred Stieglitz through the IMAGO archive, a revolutionary photographer who shaped the art photography landscape and played a pivotal role in establishing photography as a fine art in the modern era.

One of the most influential figures in the history of photography is the German American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. He is renowned for his groundbreaking work and effort to establish photography as a legitimate art form. Not only did he make significant advancements in photography from both scientific and artistic perspectives, but he also played a key role in spreading modern art throughout the United States.

“ I could not understand why the artists should envy me for my work, yet, in the same breath, decry it because it was machine-made—their ‘art’ painting, because hand-made being considered necessarily superior. There I started my fight.”


IMAGO/Heritage Images
IMAGO / Heritage Images | Photo by Alfred Stieglitz. 1922.

Alfred was born in the USA in 1864 but went to Berlin to complete his studies in mechanical engineering. Upon finishing, he embarked on his photographic journey across Europe before returning to the USA to play his historic role in the field of photography. 

During that time, most photographers viewed photography solely as a commercial tool. However, Alfred’s approach was distinct from theirs. “I could not understand why the artists should envy me for my work, yet, in the same breath, decry it because it was machine-made—their ‘art’ painting, because hand-made being considered necessarily superior. There I started my fight,” he later expressed

Through his lens, Stieglitz captured the essence of early 20th-century America, documenting the rapid urbanization and the evolving social landscape with a keen eye for detail. He aimed to showcase photography’s expressive potential, its ability to convey emotions, and its power to narrate stories. 


IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz. 1907.

At the same time, his effort was focused on gaining recognition for photography as a fine art. He spearheaded a movement alongside other photographers who sought to push the boundaries of the medium. From 1903 to 1917, Stieglitz published one of the most significant journals in the history of photography, “Camera Work.” He and many others used this platform to exhibit the finest examples of artistic photography. The publication also featured critical essays that promoted photography as a legitimate art form, fostering dialogue within the artistic community.

Stieglitz’s advocacy for the recognition of photography as a fine art was a crucial aspect of his brilliant impact on the field. Beyond his artistic contributions, Stieglitz played a vital role as a mentor and curator, nurturing the careers of numerous photographers, including Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, and Georgia O’Keeffe, who later became his wife. His pioneering spirit and unwavering dedication to photography helped shape the trajectory of the medium, inspiring generations of photographers to come. 

See IMAGO’s collection for Alfred Stieglitz here.


imago images/Artokoloro
IMAGO / Artokoloro | Stones of Venice, Chioggia, by Alfred Stieglitz. 1887.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Alfred Stieglitz collection.

imago/UIG
IMAGO / UIG | Georgia O Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Alfred Stieglitz collection.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Photo by Alfred Stieglitz.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Alfred Stieglitz collection.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Georgia O Keeffe – Hands and Thimble. Artist: Alfred Stieglitz. 1919.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | From the Window of 291, Snow-Covered Tree. Back-Yard by Alfred Stieglit. 1915.

imago images/Artokoloro
IMAGO / Artokoloro | Ellen Koeniger by Alfred Stieglitz. 1916.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Georgia O Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz. 1922.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | The Dancing Trees. Artist: Alfred Stieglitz. 1922.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Alfred Stieglitz collection.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | Self-Portrait, Cortina by Alfred Stieglitz. 1890.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Georgia O Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz. 1918.

imago images/UIG
IMAGO / UIG | Sun Rays Paula by Alfred Stieglitz. 1889, Berlin.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Going to the Post, Morris Park by Alfred Stieglitz. 1904.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | The Rag Picker by Alfred Stieglitz. 1892.

IMAGO/piemags
IMAGO / piemags | New York from the Shelton Made 1935 United States. Alfred Stieglitz collection.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Dorothy True. Artist: Alfred Stieglitz. 1919.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Grass and Frost by Alfred Stieglitz. 1934.

imago images/Historical Views
IMAGO / agefotostock | Picasso-Braque Exhibition by Alfred Stieglitz. 1915.

IMAGO/Heritage Images
IMAGO / Heritage Images | Katharine Dudley by Alfred Stieglitz. 1922.