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Margaret Watkins
Self Portrait, 1919
Margaret Watkins
Margaret Watkins

Margaret Watkins

Country: Canada
Birth: 1884 | Death: 1969

Margaret Watkins (1884-1969) was born in Canada. Best known for art and advertising photography executed in New York in the 1920s, Watkins was active in the Clarence White school of photography and a participant in the shift from pictorialism to modernism. Her working life spanned a Victorian upbringing in Hamilton, Ontario, and the witnessing of the first Soviet Five-Year Plan. Watkins' modernism, which involved experimentation and a radical focus on form, transgressed boundaries of conventional, high-art subject matter. Her focus was daily life and her photographs, whether an exploration of the objects in her New York kitchen or the public and industrial spaces of Glasgow, Paris, Cologne, Moscow, and Leningrad in the 1930s, strike a balance between abstraction and an evocation of the everyday, offering a unique gendered perspective on modernism and modernity.

Watkins established a studio in Greenwich Village and in 1920 she accepted the position of editor of the annual publication Pictorial Photography in America. Clarence White asked Watkins to join the faculty of his school, where Watkins met other notable photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. She worked for Macy's department stores and for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, capturing simple domestic objects with a clarity of modernist vision rare in commercial photography at the time. Her landscapes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, and abstractions received praise and attracted controversy. Exhibitions were held in the United States and in Europe.

In 1928, Watkins decided to visit her four elderly aunts in Glasgow, Scotland. She traveled throughout Europe, photographing extensively and producing a body of work documenting post-revolution Russia. Her aunts began to take ill, and Watkins remained in Glasgow to help care for them. She drifted from the spotlight of public recognition, and few photographs or negatives exist from this time. Watkins lived in Scotland in seclusion until her death in 1969.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Joakim Eskildsen
Denmark
1971
Joakim Eskildsen was born in Copenhagen in 1971 where he trained with Royal Court photographer, Mrs. Rigmor Mydtskov. In 1994, he moved to Finland to learn the craft of photographic book making with Jyrki Parantainen and Pentti Sammallahti at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, graduating with an MA degree in photography in 1998. He often collaborates on projects with writer Cia Rinne, and his publications include Nordic Signs (1995), Blue-tide (1997), iChickenMoon (1999), which was awarded Best Foreign Title of 2000 in the Photo-Eye Books & Prints Annual Awards, the portfolio al-Madina (2002), which was made in collaboration with Kristoffer Albrecht and Pentti Sammallahti, and the book The Roma Journeys (Steidl 2007), which a.o. has been awarded with the Amilcare Ponchielli Award in 2008, Deutscher Fotobuchpreis (Gold) 2009, the Otto Pankok Promotion Prize, and the David Octavius Hill-medal awarded by Deutsche Fotografsche Akademie in 2009. Joakim lives and works in Berlin.Source: www.joakimeskildsen.com Joakim Eskildsen (born 1971 in Copenhagen) is a Danish art photographer. Eskildsen was a pupil of Rigmor Mydtskov in Copenhagen and went to Finland in 1994 to study photographic book making with Pentti Sammallahti at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. He lives near Copenhagen and has shown some of his works in Europe (including Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, France, England, Italy), China, and South Africa. From 2000-2006, together with the writer Cia Rinne, Eskildsen sought out Roma in various (mainly Eastern European) countries and other ethnic groups in India who are possibly related to the Roma. The fruits of this work have found their way into the book The Roma Journeys, which delivers insight into the life of the Roma by its text and more than 200 photographs. Source: Wikipedia
Edward Steichen
United States
1879 | † 1973
Edward Steichen (1879 - 1973) was born in Luxembourg, but immigrated to the United States, to Milwaukee, in 1880. In 1894, Steichen began a four-year lithography apprenticeship with the American Fine Art Company of Milwaukee. After hours, he would sketch and draw, and began to teach himself to paint. Having come across a camera shop near to his work, he bought his first camera, a secondhand Kodak box "detective" camera, in 1895. In 1900, as Steichen headed to Paris to study painting, he stopped in New York. By that time he was an aspiring painter and an accomplished photographer in the soft-focus, Pictorial style and he made a pilgrimage to the Camera Club of New York to show his work to Alfred Stieglitz, the leading tastemaker in American photography. Stieglitz, vice-president of the Camera Club and editor of its journal Camera Notes, was impressed by the young artist from Milwaukee and bought three of his photographs-a self-portrait and two moody, atmospheric woodland scenes printed in platinum-for the impressive sum of five dollars each. Elated, Steichen then boarded the ship for Europe. Once in France, Steichen quickly abandoned his painting studies and began to focus his energies on photography. He learned the technical intricacies of the gum bichromate process, popular among the members of the Photo-Club de Paris, and developed a reputation as a portraitist of noted artists, writers, and members of society. Arriving back in New York in 1902, Steichen rented a studio on the top floor of a brownstone at 291 Fifth Avenue and hung out his shingle; his work as a professional portrait photographer flourished. That same year, Stieglitz announced the formation of the Photo-Secession-the name he gave to the loose-knit group of photographers he exhibited, published, and promoted during the next decade and a half-and the publication of a new, still more lavish journal, Camera Work. Over the fifteen-year, fifty-issue run of Camera Work, no other artist would be featured as prominently as Steichen, who had sixty-five photographs and three paintings reproduced in fifteen issues, including a "Special Steichen Supplement" in April 1906 and an all-Steichen double issue in 1913. In 1906, Steichen determined "to get away from the lucrative but stultifying professional portrait business" and return to France with his family in hopes of resuscitating his idled painting career. It was a move with numerous consequences. For one, it positioned him to embrace the Autochrome, the process for making glass-plate color transparencies introduced by the Lumière brothers in 1907. Steichen-who had experimented with various methods such as gum bichromate to introduce color into his photographs-was enthralled by the technique. Steichen also made what he called his "first attempt at serious documentary reportage" in the summer of 1907, using a borrowed hand camera. Steichen returned to the U.S. in 1914. Serving in the US Army in World War I (and the US Navy in the Second World War), Steichen commanded significant units contributing to military photography. After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into editorial and fashion photography. His portraits of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson, and other celebrities appeared in Vogue and Vanity Fair in the 1920s and 1930s. From 1947-1962, Steichen served as the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.. Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating the 1955 exhibition, The Family of Man, at the Museum of Modern Art consisting of over 500 photographs. Steichen purchased a farm that he called Umpawaug in 1928, just outside West Redding, Connecticut, and lived there until his death. Source: Howard Greenberg Gallery
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