Whitney Museum opens Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition

. December 7, 2013

The Whitney Museum of American Art presents Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition an exhibition on view Dec 6, 2013–Feb 23, 2014.

Edward Steichen ( 1879-1973). Marlene Dietrich, (1931). Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 10 x 8in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234 Steichen/Vanity Fair; © Condé Nast.

Edward Steichen ( 1879-1973). Marlene Dietrich, (1931). Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 10 x 8in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234 Steichen/Vanity Fair; © Condé Nast.

Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition presents an extraordinary gift of Edward Steichen photographs given to the Museum by Richard and Jackie Hollander. This exhibition includes celebrity portraits and fashion photographs taken during Steichen’s tenure as chief photographer for Condé Nast, shots for advertising campaigns, and images that reflect the artist’s interest in the natural world. Seen together, these works demonstrate Steichen’s role as a leading proponent of photography as both an aesthetic form and a vehicle for mass communication.

Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition is organized by Carrie Springer, Senior Curatorial Assistant.

Edward Steichen (1879–1973) began his career as a painter and a photographer, producing atmospheric and expressive photographs with a deliberate painterly appearance. After serving in World War I as an aerial photographer, he abandoned painting and developed a more modernist approach to photography, focusing on making images for the printed page. After serving as the chief photographer for Condé Nast publications from 1923 to 1937, Steichen resigned from his post and, at the age of fifty-nine, gave up his New York studio. During World War II, Steichen volunteered for service, and became director of the U.S. Navy Photographic Institute, in charge of all Navy Combat photography. In 1947, he was appointed director of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, where he worked for fifteen years and curated more than forty exhibitions. His most famous show was The Family of Man (1955), a wideranging exhibition of photographs by artists from around the world linked together a shared human experience. MoMA also mounted an exhibition of Steichen’s own work in 1961, the year before he retired. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy presented Steichen with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the government bestows to a civilian.

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