Master photographer and curator Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) was born on this day in in Hoboken, New Jersey. Called "The Father of Modern Photography," Stieglitz passionately dedicated his life to elevating photography to a fine art form.
The legend goes that as a young engineering student in Berlin, Stieglitz was enticed by a camera in a store window. He recalled: "I bought it and carried it to my room and began to fool around with it. It fascinated me, first as a passion, then as an obsession."
As he perfected his craft, he began writing about his obsession. His views and examination of the creative process was the genesis of the Pictorialism movement, which celebrated the artistic quality and emotional impact of photography.
"The fight for photography became my life," he said.
To promote this new art form, Stieglitz opened art galleries in New York City, including the famous "291" Gallery on Fifth Avenue in 1908. With an eye for talent, he mentored artists such as Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and the renowned painter Georgia O'Keeffe, who he married in 1924.
By introducing America to the works of Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, and Pablo Picasso, he profoundly influenced the 20th century art world. Stieglitz, said National Gallery of Art Director Earl A. Powell, "inspired a dramatic transformation in American art and photography in the first few decades of the twentieth century."
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