Filed under
Edward Steichen, Luxembourgian (1879 – 1973)
Edward Steichen: Twenty-five Photographs Portfolio
Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen: Twenty-five Photographs Portfolio
Silver Gelatin Photograph
Various sizes to 13 by 10 1/2 inches

Portfolio of 25 photographs, each mounted, the portfolio label, signed by George Tice and Joanna Steichen, on the reverse, 1903-36; introduction by Joanna Steichen, and colophon, with edition '43/100' in ink. Folio, grey buckram clamshell box.

Printed 1981-82 by George Tice

View Edward Steichen: Twenty-five Photographs Portfolio photograph

Edward Steichen, born in Luxembourg in 1879, transformed photography with his brilliantly conceived and executed portraits. Though he is immortalized as one of the greatest photographers of his time, it was Edward Steichen's early roots as a painter that allowed him to so drastically influence the photographic medium. “The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each to himself,” he theorized. Steichen’s attempt and ultimate success to gain recognition for photography as an art form, alongside his contemporary and Photo-Secession cofounder Alfred Stieglitz, employed a Pictorialist approach distinguished by dreamlike, soft-focused images that reflected the accepted style and principles of other art forms. A later stint as an aerial photographer during WWI led Steichen to adopt a Modernist vision—he would turn to straightforward, clean lines in his work thereafter, moving on to work in commercial photography and become an acclaimed pioneer of fashion photography.

Soon after moving from Paris to New York in 1923, Steichen read a Vanity Fair article that claimed he was giving up photography for painting, when in fact the opposite was true. Upon correcting the error with the magazine’s editor, Steichen was invited to a lunch with publisher Condé Nast, who promptly offered him the position of chief photographer. Steichen accepted, and his portraits of luminaries of the theater, literature, music, and the visual arts, along with those of scientists, athletes, and fashionable "It Girls" were published in both Vanity Fair and Vogue from 1923 to 1938. His work set a new standard for future portrait photographers, whose work would appear in both magazines and galleries.