The Photo-Secession

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New York – Howard Greenberg Gallery and Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs will present works from the Photo-Secession at The Art Show organized by the Art Dealers Association of America from March 2-6, 2016, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. The exhibition by the two New York-based galleries – in one large booth – will survey photography and paintings by the Photo-Secessionists.

Founded in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz, the Photo-Secession became a movement to advance the acceptance of photography as fine art. The members brought an extraordinary degree of craftsmanship to the making of their prints, using intricate processes, fine quality papers, and painstaking techniques that produced subtle painterly effects, often known as Pictorialism. They favored soft focus exposures that evoked associations with painting, the work of the Impressionists in particular. To further showcase the work of the Secessionists, Stieglitz founded "The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession" in 1905, an exhibition space known as "291," which was the gallery's address on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Howard Greenberg Gallery will offer photographs by some of the most important artists of the movement which illustrate the concepts and aesthetics of the time period including work by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Clarence White, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Gertrude Käsebier, Heinrich Kuehn, Karl Struss, and others. Among the highlights will be Gertrude Käsebier's 1900 photograph of Steichen and his friends in France, with a nod to the famous painting Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Manet. Noteworthy portraits by Steichen include a 1910 silver print of Stieglitz and a 1903 print of Eleonora Duse, the famous Italian actress. Later, Steichen would become known to the general public for his portraits of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and other celebrities in the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair. He founded the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Photography and was the curator of the internationally acclaimed exhibition The Family of Man.

Stieglitz's Winter on Fifth Avenue, 1893, was described by Steichen as Stieglitz's "most exhibited, reproduced, and prize-awarded print, and a technical achievement considered impossible."  The cityscape was made on the corner of 35th Street and Fifth Avenue during a blizzard, just a few blocks from where the 291 gallery would be located. 

A number of the photographs on view were published in Camera Work, launched by Stieglitz in 1903. The finely printed journal was published for 15 years and showcased the work of the Photo-Secessionists. A complete set of the 50 issues will be on view.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs will exhibit major photographs and paintings by Photo-Secessionists including Alvin Langdon Coburn, Frederick H. Evans, Gertrude Käsebier, Heinrich Kuehn, Edward Steichen, and Clarence H. White. The work of earlier masters Julia Margaret Cameron and Hill & Adamson will also be on view. They were championed by and had a direct influence on the movement and were also featured in Camera Work. Among the highlights will be Crépuscule au Printemps, a poetic French landscape of trees during a spring twilight by Frederick H. Evans. The 1900 platinum print, the finest example known, achieves an extraordinary moment of tranquility with a lengthy camera exposure. 

Although best known for his photography, Steichen headed to Paris as a young man to study painting in 1900. His moody Nocturne canvas of trees with a sliver of a moon from circa 1904 is thought to have been painted in Mamaroneck, New York. The painting was likely inspired by one of Steichen's most famous photographs, Moonrise Mamaroneck, New York, 1904. Two platinum prints of this image are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1906, Steichen returned to France. The Lotus Screen, S.S.S., 1909, a painting of Alfred Stieglitz's youngest sister Selma Stieglitz Schubart, was made during this period and reproduced in Camera Work in 1913.

Happy Days, 1903, is one of Gertrude Käsebier's most innovative and playful images. Although she was criticized at the time for tightly cropping the figures, this composition was actually quite modern for its time.

An oversized gum bichromate print Im Bacino di San Marco, Venezia by Heinrich Kuehn from before 1904 projects a soft painterly quality. The print was shown in the 2010 exhibition of his work at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.

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