Friday, April 20, 2007

The Photography of Alfred Stieglitz

Alred Stieglitz was an American photographer who was born in 1864 and died in 1946. The above series of photographs show how I tried to emulate his style in dealing with some of the architecture and landscape encountered during this semester in Italy. Steiglitz's photos appear in their original monochromatic format; mine are in color.

In the first image, Mountain and Sky - Lake George (1924), Stieglitz uses the sharp contrast between the landform and what appears as a vertical column of clouds to make a compelling and slightly abstract composition that suggests movement and monumentality. Likewise, in my photo of evergreens near San Miniato al Monte outside Florence, I attempt to use contrast and verticality in a similar way.

In the 1931 photo, Evening from the Shelton, Steiglitz makes a city of skyscrapers appear as a forest of trees; indeed, we can see a new "tree" growing in the background. The subtle differences between light and dark further emphasizes the forest-like nature of the vertical 20th-century city. My photo of the interior of the Duomo of Siena looks to reinforce the notion of the Romanesque/Gothic cathedral as an earthy forest with light shining in from above.

Steiglitz's final photo in this sequence, and perhaps his most famous, was taken in 1907. The Steerage captures the displacement and activity of immigrants coming into New York's harbor through the use of the stark elements (mast, gangplank, and deck) that move across the entire frame. My photo of the interior of the Rossi's mausoleum near Modena attempts a similar composition.

Clinton Riddle

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