Unreal Nature

July 20, 2017

He Was Certain

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:50 am

… For more than forty years Stieglitz worked to achieve this goal …

This is from Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries by Sarah Greenough (2000):

… He was a man of enormous intellect and passionate, often radical convictions. Yet, ironically, within the last thirty years he has been incorporated into the very establishment he once decried.

Stieglitz, though, was correct in his assessment of himself: he was, at the very core of his being, a revolutionist, and it was this characteristic that propelled him to a preeminent position in American art. Throughout his life he presented himself as a passionate individual who refused, even as a child, to play games according to prescribed rules but made new rules and even new games.

[line break added] An iconoclast who could not accept things on face value but insisted on challenging conventions, Stieglitz was intensely ambitious and highly competitive: he wanted, as he once admitted, to “beat everybody on earth,” but once victorious, he lost interest and moved on to other things. “Whenever I feel success coming,” he declared in the 1920s, “I walk around the corner.”

[line break added] His defiance of tradition, his willingness to experiment, his faith in the efficacy of radical action, and his desire to work outside of accepted structures won him supporters among avant-garde artists and intellectuals. Moreover, his restless nature, coupled with his incessant need to subvert expectations, endowed him with the ability to discover fresh, more compelling causes in the wake of old ones, and thus to repeatedly reinvigorate his mission by bringing new ideas and new converts into his fold.


Gertrude Käsebier, Alfred Stieglitz, 1902

… When Stieglitz opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York in 1905, he had the audacious belief that America, as the most modern nation in the world, could and should be the world’s preeminent cultural force. And he was certain that New York, the city of ambition, the place where the hand of man — and the hand of modern man — was writ large, should be its center.

[line break added] For more than forty years Stieglitz worked to achieve this goal, mounting exhibitions, publishing brochures and periodicals, and steadfastly staying “on deck” at his galleries, as he phrased it, proselytizing to all who would listen. That time proved him correct bears witness to the strength of his paradigm; it is also evidence of his vision.

To be continued.

-Julie

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