Magazine history — Alfred Stieglitz

Magazine history — Alfred Stieglitz: While the launch yesterday of the new iteration of LIFE magazine has been in the news this week, here’s an article by Richard Nilsen of The Arizona Republic about “the most beautiful photography magazine ever published,” Camera Work, which was produced from 1903 to 1917. “It was also the most influential,” writes Nilsen.


A single man was responsible for making sure the magazine was beautiful, and he was perhaps the most influential person in the history of photography as an art. Alfred Stieglitz was a cantankerous, difficult man, who spoke a great deal, condescended a great deal, bullied, persuaded and pronounced. He was a salesman par excellence. If he had been promoting Florida land development, today Miami would be the nation’s capital.

On a side note, Nashvillians have a special connection with Stieglitz as the he left a portion of his renowned art collection to Fisk University in Nashville. Stieglitz’s wife, Georgia O’Keefe, oversaw the apportioning of his estate in 1949. Today, the university’s Alfred Stieglitz Collection is comprised of 101 paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs by 29 American and European artists, including Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Diego Rivera, Arthur Dove, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Gino Severini, Abraham Walkowitz and Alfred Stieglitz, himself. African sculpture from Stieglitz’s collection also was included in the gift.

If you are ever in Nashville (or live here and have not done so), you should visit a true hidden treasure of the city, The Carl Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk University. (While you’re there, also visit Jubilee Hall, another treasure.) The gallery is on Jackson Street and 18th Avenue North. Hours: Tues-Fri 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sat & Sun 1 – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.

(Currently, a selection of 66 images from Camera Work magazine organized by the James A. Michener Art Museum is on view at the art gallery at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz.)

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