Journal: Alfred Stieglitz


Alfred Stieglitz found beauty in everyday things that were neither beautiful or extraordinary. He was dedicated to gaining freedom for artists and forcing America to really see what was in front of them. He wanted Americans to detach themselves from the past and live in the 20th century. His work showed New York passing through time with old and new photographs. He tried new techniques and travelled to capture images of new settings and interesting places. Promoting photography was vital to his life, but the acceptance of photography (“Art’s most mortal enemy”) as an art was what he most wanted to accomplish during his lifetime.
Every object or being has relationship to space. Many drawers and painters demonstrate this by looking at a photograph and reproducing it with foreground, middle ground, and background and proportional subjects. A lot of their artwork is dependent upon an inspiring photograph. Photography, to me, is the capturing of something in a way that becomes beautiful or interesting. The definition of art in my mind, is strikingly similar to this. Because Stieglitz saw his photographs as unique and meaningful entities and put a lot of work into them, I believe they qualify as art. The patience required for shooting the best image can require as much time and effort as creating it from hand. Stieglitz is a prime example of this; he scoured New York for the perfect shot and made it his own. An image taken through a lens can evoke and express emotion like a drawn or painted one can.
One of the images that stood out to me in the video was that of Georgia O’Keefe’s. I especially liked one of the abstract paintings that were in her first show with deep blues and oranges, because the colors complement each other nicely. She used short brush strokes to show whatever emotion she was feeling as she painted—maybe excitement or anxiousness. I found it interesting that the edges of her painting are not clean-cut and the individual ceases of her strokes visible. This might represent chaos or disorder. Another image that caught my eye was a photograph of a woman with a sign that read “Blind” hanging around her neck. Stieglitz was broadcasting a flaw of hers, so-to-speak. Whether he was trying to show vulnerability or humor through the expression on the woman’s face, it was a memorable photograph. The third and final image I found to be unique was Stieglitz’s photograph of the horse and carriage—the one that opened the video. The achromatic exposure of the white horse and carriage and gray background has interesting contrast. It is a simple photograph that captures something that happened everyday during that time period. What makes it interesting is the manipulation of color and the texture in the road. Many people scoffed at Stieglitz for calling this photograph a work of art, but he continued to pursue photography as an art form. This photograph is a symbol of his resilience.
Art cannot be critically defined or shoved into a small box; it’s creative. Many people have different conceptions of art, but that is what makes every artist’s work, whether it be shown through photography or another medium, interesting and original. It is not about pleasing others, but about expressing an emotion, thought, or belief. For some like Alfred Stieglitz, photography is a process of doing this and will continue to be whether it is accepted as an art form or not.

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