A photographer, artist, critic, art dealer, and collector, Alfred Stieglitz championed many of America’s most progressive artists in the first decades of the twentieth century. On display are works by both Alfred Stieglitz and the artists who engaged with him over the course of five decades–from the early experimental works of Max Weber to the mature expressions of John Marin and Marsden Hartley, and the progressive photographic compositions of Paul Strand and Edward Steichen. The approximately 60 works–watercolors, prints, paintings and photographs–are drawn from the High’s permanent collection, as well as loans from private collections located in Atlanta.
This exhibition showcases how Stieglitz’s impact extended well beyond his individual support of singular artists. His format of grouping and promoting new talents–photographers, painters, and sculptors alike–created a loose knit community whose shared purpose was to advance new approaches to artistic representation. His galleries served as avant-garde incubators in which new forms of art were, often for the first time in the United States, presented.
Already an accomplished pioneering photographer by the time he opened his famous Gallery 291 in 1905, Alfred Stieglitz shifted focus around 1909 to primarily promoting and advancing modern art in America through exhibitions and in his quarterly photographic journal “Camerawork.” Stieglitz’s earliest works supported an expansive group of artists who practiced a modernism reflective of European influences, such as continental Cubism and Expressionism, seen in the works of Max Weber, Arthur B. Carles, Oscar Bluemner, Abraham Walkowitz, Alfred Maurer, John Marin, and Marsden Hartley.
After World War I and with the closing of Gallery 291 in 1917, Stieglitz shifted towards a more exclusive group of artists, which he featured in a series of new exhibition spaces (including The Anderson Galleries, The Intimate Gallery, and An American Place) modeled after Gallery 291’s initial success. Stieglitz’s group of “Seven Americans,” took shape during this time, a group which included himself, the photographer Paul Strand, and painters Hartley, Marin, Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Charles Demuth.