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Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham

Country: United States
Birth: 1883 | Death: 1976

Imogen Cunningham is renowned as one of the greatest American women photographers. In 1901, having sent away $15 for her first camera, she commenced what would become the longest photographic career in the history of the medium.. Cunningham soon turned her attention to both the nude as well as native plant forms in her back garden. The results were staggering; an amazing body of work comprised of bold, contemporary forms. These works are characterized by a visual precision that is not scientific, but which presents the lines and textures of her subjects articulated by natural light and their own gestures. Her refreshing, yet formal and sensitive floral images from the 1920’s ultimately became her most acclaimed images. Cunningham also had an intuitive command of portraiture but her real artistic legacy was secured though her inclusion in the "F64" show in San Francisco in 1932. With a small group of photographers which included Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, she pioneered the renewal of photography on the West Coast. Awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, Cunningham’s work continues to be exhibited and collected around the world.

Source: Photography West Gallery


Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1883. In 1901, at the age of eighteen, Cunningham bought her first camera, a 4x5 inch view camera, from the American School of Art in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She soon lost interest and sold the camera to a friend. It wasn’t until 1906, while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, that she was inspired by an encounter with the work of Gertrude Käsebier, to take up photography again. With the help of her chemistry professor, Dr. Horace Byers, she began to study the chemistry behind photography and she subsidized her tuition by photographing plants for the botany department. After being graduated in 1907 Cunningham went to work for Edward S. Curtis in his Seattle studio, gaining knowledge about the portrait business and practical photography.

In 1909, Cunningham won a scholarship from her sorority (Pi Beta Phi) for foreign study and applied to study with Professor Robert Luther at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden, Germany. In Dresden she concentrated on her studies and didn’t take many photographs. In May 1910 she finished her paper, “About the Direct Development of Platinum Paper for Brown Tones,” describing her process to increase printing speed, improve clarity of highlights tones, and produce sepia tones. On her way back to Seattle she met Alvin Langdon Coburn in London, and Alfred Stieglitz and Gertrude Käsebier in New York. In Seattle, Cunningham opened her studio and won acclaim for portraiture and pictorial work. Most of her studio work of this time consisted of sitters in their own homes, in her living room, or in the woods surrounding Cunningham's cottage. She became a sought after photographer and exhibited at the Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1913.

In 1914, Cunningham's portraits were shown at An International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in New York. Wilson's Photographic Magazine published a portfolio of her work. The next year, she married Roi Partridge, a teacher and artist. He posed for a series of nude photographs, which were shown by the Seattle Fine Arts Society. Although critically praised, Cunningham didn’t revisit those photographs for another fifty-five years. Between 1915 and 1920, Cunningham continued her work and had three children (Gryffyd, Rondal, and Padraic) with Partridge. In 1920, they moved to San Francisco where Partridge taught at Mills College. Cunningham refined her style, taking a greater interest in pattern and detail and becoming increasingly interested in botanical photography, especially flowers. Between 1923 and 1925 she carried out an in-depth study of the magnolia flower. Later in the decade she turned her attention toward industry, creating several series of industrial landscapes in Los Angeles and Oakland. In 1929, Edward Weston nominated 10 of Cunningham's photographs (8 botanical, 1 industrial, and 1 nude) for inclusion in the "Film und Foto" exhibition and her renowned, Two Callas, debuted in that exhibition. Cunningham once again changed direction, becoming more interested in the human form, particularly hands, and she was fascinated with the hands of artists and musicians. This interest led to her employment by Vanity Fair, photographing stars without make-up.

In 1932, with this unsentimental, straightforward approach in mind, Cunningham became one of the co-founders of the Group f/64, which aimed to “define photography as an art form by a simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods.” In 1934, Cunningham was invited to do some work in New York for Vanity Fair. Her husband wanted her to wait until he could travel with her, but she refused. They later divorced. She continued with Vanity Fair until it stopped publication in 1936. In the 1940s, Cunningham turned to documentary street photography, which she executed as a side project while supporting herself with her commercial and studio photography. In 1945, Cunningham was invited by Ansel Adams to accept a position as a faculty member for the art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts. Dorothea Lange and Minor White joined as well. In 1973, her work was exhibited at the Rencontres d'Arles festival in France through the group exhibition: Trois photographes américaines, Imogen Cunningham, Linda Connor, Judy Dater. Cunningham continued to take photographs until shortly before her death at age ninety-three on June 24, 1976, in San Francisco, California.

Source: Wikipedia

 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Cardell Phillips
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Robert Heinecken
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Nan Goldin
United States
1953
Nancy "Nan" Goldin is an American photographer. As a teenager in Boston in the 1960s, then in New York starting in the 1970s, Nan Goldin has taken intensely personal, spontaneous, sexual, and transgressive photographs of her family, friends, and lovers. In 1979 she presented her first slideshow in a New York nightclub, and her richly colored, snapshotlike photographs were soon heralded as a groundbreaking contribution to fine art photography. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency—the name she gave her ever-evolving show—eventually grew into a forty-five-minute multimedia presentation of more than 900 photographs, accompanied by a musical soundtrack. Goldin first exhibited at Matthew Marks Gallery in 1992. Her work has been the subject of two major touring retrospectives: one organized in 1996 by the Whitney Museum of American Art and another, in 2001, by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Recent exhibitions include the slide and video presentation Sisters, Saints & Sybils at La Chapelle de la Salpêtrière, Paris, and her contributions to the 40th Les Rencontres d'Arles in 2009. Goldin was admitted to the French Legion of Honor in 2006 and received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in 2007. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was most recently presented live in Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London, in 2008, and the slideshow was installed in the exhibition Here is Every. Four Decades of Contemporary Art at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 2008 to March 2009. Her Scopophilia exhibition is currently part of Patrice Chéreau's special program at the Louvre. Goldin lives and works in Paris and New York.Source: www.matthewmarks.com
Marc Gordon
United States
Marc Gordon is a photographer who focuses on unposed portraiture and photo documentary. He was trained at the International Center for Photography in New York City and studied street photography with Harvey Stein. He spent several years doing advertising photography at Kripalu, a yoga retreat center in the Berkshires, starting in 2009. Afterwards he turned to documentary and portraiture. All of his photographs try to capture unposed expressive moments, and to show people as they are without interpretation. A documentary series on the Gay Pride Parades in New York City has appeared in L'Oeil de la Photographie and was featured on the Social Documentary Network in late 2020. In addition to documentary and portraiture, Marc also explores landscape photography. As in portraiture, he tries to avoid interpretation and seeks instead to reveal Nature's complex patterns. He currently lives in New Mexico and will exhibit a series of landscapes at the Abiquiu Inn as soon as it is safe again to gather indoors. Marc was trained as a research mathematician and worked for many years on quantitative trading strategies before becoming a photographer. Joy and Confrontation These photos attempt to capture the spirit of the Gay Pride parades in New York City in the years since gay marriage was legalized in the United States. The collection begins with portraits of people encountered in the streets around the parades. Their joyful celebration is challenged by Christian demonstrators carrying offensive and provocative signs who came to condemn homosexuality and warn of divine retribution. Reactions range from mockery to dancing, heated argument, lewd gestures, outrage, and anger. I am grateful to have spent time with these young gay people and to have had the chance to photograph them. For any questions, you can contact Marc Gordon at marcgor@msn.com.
Sasha Stone
Russia/United States
1895 | † 1940
Sasha Stone (1895-1940) was born Aleksander Serge Steinsapir in St. Petersburg, Russia, of Jewish parents. He lived and worked in Europe and America between the wars and is best known for his portraits, nude studies, photographs of Berlin and for his photojournalism. Stone studied engineering in Warsaw, and then spent several years in New York, where he obtained American citizenship and chose the pseudonym Sasha Stone. After a sculptor and painter education in Paris and Berlin, Stone described himself as an expert in the fields of advertising, architecture, illustration, film, and stage design. In the 1920s, Sasha Stone worked as a professional photographer in Berlin, primarily for the illustrated magazines published by the Ullstein publishing house. He belonged to the circle around the constructivist periodical "G", which included Moholy-Nagy, Mies van der Rohe, El Lissitzky and Walter Benjamin. He created the photomontage for the original book jacket of Benjamin's famous Einbahnstraße (One-Way Street) - which is still used for the English Penguin edition. In 1929, Stone published Berlin in Pictures, which is extremely difficult to find today. Both, his and his wife Cami's photographs were published in the German photography annual Das Deutsche Lichtbild. Threatened by the rising Fascism, they fled Germany in 1932 and moved to Brussels. Their studio was located at 18 rue de Naples until the German invasion of Belgium in 1940. Sasha Stone's nude work appeared in Les Femmes, and was published by Editions Arts et Metiers Graphiques, Paris, in 1933. His nudes are usually in poses that are quite modernist in sensibility, and the lighting emphasizes their sculptural shapes and angles. The couple separated in 1939. Cami again assumed her maiden name. Sasha died in 1939 during his flight to the United States in Perpignan. 800 photos of the archive of Cami and Sasha Stone, lost until recently, were auctioned in Argenteuil, France, in 2009. Cami Stones nephew had rescued the archive during World War II and stored it until last year.
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