Edward J. Steichen (1879-1973), a luminary in the genesis of American photography, distinguished himself as a true trailblazer, imprinting an enduring legacy on the medium’s evolution. Recognized for his pivotal role in the emergence of the Pictorialist movement, Steichen's photographs showcase a virtuoso command over the interplay of light and shadow. His early work is characterized by painterly aesthetics aimed at creating ethereal, atmospheric photographs through soft dilution. As his career progressed, he transitioned into a highly stylized focus, particularly notable in his foray into commercial photography. Steichen’s ability to infuse each style with his distinctive vision solidifies his position as a pioneer in the realm of photography.


Born in Luxembourg, Steichen embarked on his photographic journey at 16, apprenticing at a lithographic firm before fully immersing himself in photography in 1896. A turning point came when his work was exhibited in a Chicago salon, leading to his introduction to Alfred Stieglitz, who became his mentor. Joining Stieglitz in Paris exposed him to the formalist worlds of sculpture and painting, influencing his work profoundly. By 1902, after returning from Paris, Steichen contributed to 291 Gallery and Camera Work, publishing works from his peers in Photo-Secession. Exhibitions of his avant-garde style, including “The Flatiron,” “In Memoriam,” and “Rodin–The Thinker,” marked his early prominence. His career diversified during World War I when he engaged in Aerial photography during WWI. in 1923, Steichen assumed the role of chief photographer at Condé Nast Vogue and Vanity Fair, where he seamlessly blended celebrity editorial, commercial, and advertisement photography methods, forging a genre uniquely his own. In 1947, he became the head of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art where he directed numerous shows, notable curating “The Family of Man” (1955), “Road to Victory” (1942), “In and Out of Focus” (1948), and “Postwar European Photography” (1953).


His work has been the highlight of several prominent exhibitions such as “Edward Steichen: The Early Years” (ICP, 1973), “Edward Steichen: Lives in Photography” (2000), and “Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years, 1923-1937” (2007). His accolades include the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963), Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (1955), Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to Photography from the Photographic Society of America (1958), Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Magazine Photographers (1965), and International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum (1984).

Selected Works
Art Fairs

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