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A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.  ~  Ansel Adams

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Famous Photographers

Ansel Adams

Photo of Ansel AdamsThe American photographer Ansel Adams, b San Francisco, Feb. 20, 1902, d. Apr. 22, 1984, became a recognized leader of modern photography through his sharp and poetic landscape photographs of the American West. Trained as a pianist, he divided his time between music and photography until 1930, when, impressed by the work of Paul Strand, he decided to concentrate fully on photography.

In 1932 he had his first solo show in a major museum and, with Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, and others, founded the influential Group F/64. In 1937, Adams moved to Yosemite, Calif., and after 1940 he photographed extensively in the country's national parks. His sharply defined prints were in marked contrast with the evocative work of earlier pictorialists and even surpass the realistic detail of 19th-century landscape photographs.

Working exclusively in black and white, Adams used brilliant light to produce intense images. His collections include My Camera in Yosemite Valley (1949); Portfolio Two: The National Parks (1950); This Is the American Earth (1960); Ansel Adams, Images 1923-1974 (1975); and The Portfolios of Ansel Adams (1977). A one-man show, "Ansel Adams and the West," was exhibited in 1979 at the Museum of Modern Art.

Alfred Stieglitz

Photo of Alfred StieglitzThe principal American force behind the recognition of photography as a fine art, Alfred Stieglitz, b. Hoboken, N.J., Jan. 1, 1864, d. July 13, 1946, was an outstanding champion of the avant-garde in all the visual arts. Trained in photographic technology in Berlin from 1883, Stieglitz first made his mark as an amateur photographer of technical excellence whose genre subjects passed beyond the anecdotal to penetrate the meaning of the scene itself. This concentration on the force of life remained his primary interest.

After returning to New York in 1890, Stieglitz began promoting amateur photography as of higher quality than the routine, unimaginative work produced by his professional contemporaries. As the editor of American Amateur Photographer (1893-96) and of Camera Notes (1897-1902) he gained international recognition for such soon-to-be-famous American photographers as
Gertrude Kasebier, Edward Steichen, and Clarence H. White.

Influenced by avant-garde movements in Germany, Stieglitz organized (1902) an impressive display of the finest pictorial photography at the National Arts Club in New York, an exhibition that gave rise to the artistic group of photographers known as the PHOTO-SECESSION. Stieglitz published the work of this group in Camera Work from 1903 to 1917. During the same years Stieglitz also exhibited, for the first time in the United States, the works of such European painters and sculptors as Picasso, Matisse, and Brancusi.

In 1917 he closed the exhibition galleries to devote himself to photography but again from 1925 to 1947 directed two galleries, first The Intimate Gallery, then An American Place, where he exhibited the photography of Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and Paul Strand and paintings by leading American artists. Of his own work, his famous serial portraits of the painter Georgia O'Keeffe, whom he married in 1924, and his cloud studies, called Equivalents (c.1929), represent the most intimate expressions of his response to the world around him.

Mathew B. Brady

Photo of Mathew B. BradyMathew B. Brady,  Warren County, N.Y., 1823, d. Jan. 16, 1896, was one of the first American photographic entrepreneurs. In 1844 he opened a daguerreotype studio in New York City; by 1860 he had two more (a second in New York City and another in Washington, D.C.) through which he maintained a thriving portrait business.

In 1845 he began to make a series of portraits of famous Americans, which he published as The Gallery of Illustrious Americans (1850). He made more than one-third of the 100 known photographs of Abraham Lincoln. The U.S. Civil War offered new scope for Brady's ambition. At an expense that depleted his fortune, he outfitted perhaps as many as 20 photographers to cover all fronts. Their equipment was too cumbersome to capture action, but their thousands of pictures showed war in a new and brutal light. By the accepted convention of studio photography, Brady's name appeared on all the images. Among Brady's best Civil War photographers were Alexander GARDNER and Timothy O'SULLIVAN, both of whom left Brady's employ in 1863.

The Selected Civil War Photographs Collection contains 1,118 photographs. Most of the images were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men.

Louis Auguste Bisson (1814-76) and Auguste Rosalie Bisson

Louis Auguste Bisson (1814-76) and Auguste Rosalie Bisson (1820-1900), were brothers and partners in photography in Paris. There, in 1841, they opened a studio for portrait DAGUERREOTYPES. By the end of that decade their studio had become a popular meeting place for prominent artists and authors, whose portraits were among the thousands made by the Bissons.

The brothers also daguerrotyped all the members of the National Assembly--over 900 portraits, which were lithographed and distributed throughout France. From 1851 they used F. S. ARCHER's collodion process to make landscape and architectural photographs, for which they became famous. Official photographers for NAPOLEON III, they accompanied him on a trip to the Alps in 1860 during which they made the first photographs from the summit of Mont Blanc.

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