Edward Steichen - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    From the Collection of Joanna Steichen

  • Catalogue Essay

    The beginning of Edward Steichen’s career as a photographer at the turn of the last century was marked by a strong Pictorialist influence. His images were typified by their emphatically romanticized subject matter, soft focus and elaborate printing methods, begetting images that were part Impressionist and part Pointillist in their effect. In some respects, photography had not been embraced as an equal counterpart to painting, and Steichen, like his predecessors, chose to emulate the latter method as a way of allowing photography to gain validity as an art form.

    Following his active duty in the First World War, Steichen resumed his practice but chose to revisit his approach, adopting abstraction over representation. Indeed, the principles inherent to photography, namely: tonality, clarity, and precision became as important as the subject matter itself. While the subject matter remained loosely Pictorialist—still lives of fruit, an arrangement of foxgloves, a wheelbarrow of flower pots, and, as seen in the current lot, a loose bouquet of flowers and leaves by a vase—the emphasis had shifted to a Modernist intersection of lines, tones and shapes. The severe cropping of the leaves, the petals and the vase nearly removes the orientation and sense of proportion within the image, further allowing the arrangement to transcend its own materiality. Steichen created a photograph that is, in fact, far more of a study on the dialogue between form and light than it is about the romantic associations with the composition.



Gelatin silver print.
9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in. (24.4 x 19.4 cm).
Numbered '6' in the negative; numbered '30' in pencil on the verso.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $35,000


4 October 2011
New York