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date: 22 January 2020


  • Barbara L. Michaels


Group of mainly American Pictorialist photographers founded by Alfred Stieglitz in New York in 1902, with the aim of advancing photography as a fine art. Stieglitz, who chose the organization’s name partly to reflect the Modernism of European artistic Secession movements, remained its guiding spirit. Other leading members included Alvin Langdon Coburn, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward J(ean) Steichen and Clarence H(udson) White. The Secession also exhibited and published work by Europeans, for example Robert Demachy, Frederick H. Evans, Heinrich Kühn and Baron Adolf de Meyer, who shared the Americans’ attitude that photography was a valid medium of artistic expression (see Pictorial photography).

All participants placed great emphasis on fine photographic printing. Their gum bichromate or platinum prints often emulated paint, pastel or other media, particularly in their use of soft focus, emphasis on composition and texture, and adoption of traditional academic subject-matter; in addition graphic signatures or monograms were often used. The Secession’s shifting aesthetic concerns are well documented in the elegant magazine ...

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