Alfred Stieglitz

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Alfred Stieglitz was a photographer who championed the modernist trend in art and nearly single-handedly revolutionized the perception of photography as an art form. Although the advancement of technology has made practically everyone an amateur photographer today, Stieglitz began his career when the medium was still relatively new and unknown. His vast essays, gallery exhibitions, and artistic endeavors elevated photography to the level of fine art, transforming it into something deserving of being placed in an art gallery, rather than a just utilitarian means of preserving images. Obsessive and driven in both his personal and professional life, he developed a reputation for being smitten with younger women and engaged in multiple relationships, culminating in a late-life marriage to renowned painter Georgia O’Keefe. His own photography frequently focuses on the softer and more natural ephemera of America’s hard and ruthless industrial boom, employing topics such as snow and steam to literally soften the hard edges of industrial scenes. While his own photography is regarded as meaningful art in and of itself, his most enduring impact is the work he did to alter the public opinion of photography and pave the way for it to be seen as fine art.

Childhood & Adolescence

Alfred Stieglitz was born on January 1, 1864, in Hoboken, New Jersey, to German-Jewish immigrants. He was the first of six children, including a set of twins. He was sent to the top elite institutions in New York for his early schooling.

In 1882, he enrolled at Berlin’s ‘Technische Hochschule’ to study mechanical engineering. It was during this school that he developed an interest in the rapidly growing field of photography.

In 1890, after his elder sister Flora died in childbirth, he was forced to return to New York to be with his family. Although he resisted returning to the city after eight years of Germany’s cultural and creative independence, he eventually returned to his bereaved family when his father threatened to reduce his allowances.

Alfred Stieglitz’s Career

Following his return to New York, Stieglitz became a leading proponent of the pictorial school of photography and wrote extensively about the ideas of photography as fine art for ‘The American Amateur Photographer and other magazines. His father purchased him a tiny photographic studio in New York in 1890, where he could exhibit his own work.

In 1892, he was appointed editor of ‘Camera Notes,’ the New York Camera Club’s periodical journal. He continued to use his influence within the club to advance photography’s rise to prominence as an art form.

By 1902, Stieglitz and a group of like-minded photographers had left the Camera Club to form what he dubbed the Photo-Secession. This initiative began with a single exhibition of photography carefully chosen by Stieglitz from among his group of acquaintances and developed into a new independent periodical named ‘Camera Work.’
These perfectionist selections received widespread critical recognition and acclaim from the general population. From 1902 through 1917, Stieglitz edited the journal.

Following the rebranding of his first gallery to ‘291’ in 1908, his art was included in an exhibition labeled a ‘Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art’ by the National Arts Club.
This exhibition included his work alongside that of fellow photographers and prominent contemporary painters such as Mary Cassat and James McNeill Whistler, in what is frequently referred to as the first public art exhibition to feature photography alongside other forms of fine art.

By 1917, his art had shifted significantly in terms of focus and ideals. Stieglitz’s work shifted away from the darkroom magic that defined his early career. He also photographed Georgia O’Keefe that year, the artist who would go on to become one of his most famous portrait subjects and eventually his wife.

The majority of his later work was spent maintaining his numerous galleries, which continued to promote his message of photography as fine art by exhibiting images alongside paintings with equal care and respect.
While his images are well-known and regarded in and of themselves, his most significant contribution to art is probably his efforts to promote photography as great art.

Major Works His 1907 shot ‘The Steerage’ remains one of his most iconic and identifiable images. Taken from a vantage point that allows for a clear view of both upper class and lower class steerage passengers on their respective decks, this photograph is regarded as a wonderful example of the current documentary style. It not only exemplifies modernism’s aesthetic standards but also makes a resonant statement on the issue without uttering a word.

Stieglitz’s portraits of his fellow artist and future wife, Georgia O’Keefe, are among his most enduring and recognized works. His lengthy portrait series was devoted to capturing her personality and inner life as much as her physical looks. Between 1917 and 1924, he photographed and published nearly 250 pictures of her.

Awards and Accomplishments

Along with his own photography, Stieglitz was well-known for his galleries that promoted a variety of creative forms. Numerous renowned artists, including Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and Henri Matisse, were introduced to America through his galleries. He was instrumental in organizing some of the country’s largest and most diverse exhibitions of fine art.

Personal History and Legacies

Stieglitz gave in to parental pressure and married Emmeline Obermeyer, the sister of a business partner, in 1893. Though he and Emmy had a daughter, the relationship was financially advantageous for him, and he was very candid about his dissatisfaction. In 1924, the couple divorced. He married Georgia O’Keeffe the next year, just a few months after his divorce.

Estimated Net worth

Alfred is one of the wealthiest photographers and is ranked among the most popular. Alfred Stieglitz’s net worth is estimated to be $16 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


Two of this famous personality’s siblings were twins, and he was said to be envious, often pining for his own soul match. This concept of an intellectual twin motivated him to pursue a romantic relationship with contemporary artist Georgia O’Keefe.