1913, 20th century, Alfred Stieglitz, American photography, Amin Jaffer, Armory Show, From the Back Window – “291”, From the Vault at Christie’s, modernism, New York city, painterly effects, pictorialism, radical European art, soft focus, transitional work
From the Back Window — “291”
By Alfred Stieglitz
Platinum print; signed, titled, dated and inscribed ‘To Marie J. Rapp in friendship’ in pencil (on the mount)
Size: 24.7 x 19.3 centimetres (9.75 x 7.6 inches)
Estimated price: $200,000-300,000
Price realised: $363,750
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) was the single most influential figure in the development of early 20th century American photography. He guided the remarkable transition from pictorialism to modernism and made New York City an important centre for both.
Pictorialism was an approach to photography that predominated around the turn of the century and can be defined as an attempt to align photography to traditions in painting. Its characteristics were painterly effects, soft focus and evocative rather than descriptive works.
This work, From the Back Window – “291” (1914), is an important example of how Stieglitz’s style changed in a four-year period that included the 1913 Armory Show, and his subsequent departure from pictorialism. At the Armory show – the moment when radical European art was first presented to an American audience – Steiglitz had an epiphany: he must embrace the modern world in full and not dress the world up through photography.
From the Back Window can be regarded as a transitional work. His series of photographs from ‘291’ are among his most prized works, each a formal and objective study in delineating shapes and expressing structure.
Christie’s Sale of The Delighted Eye: Modernist Masterworks will take place on April 4 in New York at Rockefeller Plaza. For more information please visit http://www.christie.com.
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 31, 2013.