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Camera Work


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Magazine published between 1903 and 1917. Founded and edited by Alfred Stieglitz, it was conceived as a journal of photography to serve the Photo-Secession. Before long, as Stieglitz's interests widened and he began to exhibit other art forms at the Photo-Secession's 291 gallery, he also introduced modern art, literature, and critical thought into the magazine. In the crucial years between approximately 1908 and 1915, no other American publication rivaled its presentation of modern art forms and ideas. Designed initially by Edward Steichen, Camera Work numbers among the few most sumptuous magazines ever published. Extraordinary care was lavished on the photographic reproductions, which were usually made from original negatives in painstaking technical processes chosen to suit the nature of individual images. These prints were then tipped into the individual issues by hand, often on pages specially prepared to enhance them. Alvin Langdon Coburn, Gertrude Käsebier, Steichen, Paul Strand, Clarence White, and Stieglitz himself numbered among photographers whose work was represented. Illustrated works of art in other media included examples by Cézanne, van Gogh, Rodin, Picasso, Matisse, John Marin, and Abraham Walkowitz. In its articles, Camera Work provided a forum for many, at times contradictory voices. Writers included American critics and theorists such as Charles Caffin, Marius de Zayas, and eccentric critic and poet Sadakichi Hartmann (1867?–1944), as well as Europeans including Henri Bergson, Maurice Maeterlinck, and George Bernard Shaw. The publication also provided access to writing not available elsewhere, or very difficult to find. It presented the first American appearance of Gertrude Stein's prose (plus several later pieces) and the initial English translation of a selection from Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Comments from artists and photographers and reprinted reviews from other periodicals fostered debate. After fifty numbered issues, Camera Work ceased publication. Several factors contributed to its demise, including World War I, competing publications, the disaffection of photographers who had initially supported its program, and reverses in Stieglitz's financial situation.

Subjects: Art.


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