Edward Steichen : Master of Photography
Edward Steichen
Master of Photography
Valerio D‘Alimonte, September 4, 2007
Edward Steichen_Portrait
Edward Steichen_Portrait


Edward Steichen (1879, Luxembourg 1973, United States) was one of the most important characters of photography in the XXth century. As an artist, commercial and military photographer, then curator, he marked the evolution of photography for almost 60 years, passing from pictorials to advertising and documentary photography.

Edward Steichen_Mother and baby
Edward Steichen_Mother and baby


Edward Steichen_Norma Shearer
Edward Steichen_Norma Shearer


Edward Steichen_Greta Garbo
Edward Steichen_Greta Garbo


He was born in 1879 in Bivange in Luxembourg, and he went with his family, at the age of two, to the United States. At sixteen, he discovered artistic photography and, at twenty-one, was noticed on the occasion of “The New School of American Photography” exhibition.

He was spotted by the photographer Clarence White, and was immediately recommended to Alfred Stieglitz who wasted no time in buying a few of his snaps. In 1900, Edward Steichen undertook a stay of a few years in Paris and discovered the European avant-garde. He took the opportunity to visit the Universal Exposition and discovered the works of Auguste Rodin. Impressed by the sculptor’s talent, he decided to meet him in Meudon.


Edward Steichen_Icon
Edward Steichen_Icon


Edward Steichen_Greta Garbo
Edward Steichen_Greta Garbo


Edward Steichen_Heavy Lillies_1935
Edward Steichen_Heavy Lillies_1935


In 1902, Edward Steichen co-founded the Photo Secession of New York and took an active part in the magazine Camera Works. In 1906, Alfred Stieglitz exhibited Steichen’s works in his galerie 291. The following year, he became the intermediary between the two continents: he gave many European artists the opportunity to show in New York. During the First World War, Edward Steichen joined the photography service of the French Air Force. In 1922, he decided to destroy his pictorial production and to leave Voulangis (near Paris).

Edward Steichen_Mary Steichen_1920
Edward Steichen_Mary Steichen_1920


In 1923, the Condé Nast group named him as head of photography; Edward Steichen therefore had two prestigious magazines under his responsibility: Vogue and Vanity Fair. In the same year, he joined the advertising agency, Walter Thompson, and founded a studio in New York (he didn’t waste time in becoming known through his portraits).

Edward Steichen_Woman Hat with Bouquet of Flowers_1940
Edward Steichen_Woman Hat with Bouquet of Flowers_1940


Edward Steichen_Ammann_George Washington Birdge
Edward Steichen_Ammann_George Washington Birdge


In the 1930s, Edward Steichen published a book of photos for children entitled The First Picture Book (1930) and closed his studio (1938). An exhibition at the Baltimore modern art museum gave him the status of fully-fledged artist.

Edward Steichen_Vogue cover
Edward Steichen_Vogue cover


During the Second World War, Edward Steichen joined a photography section within the air and sea force; he embarked upon Lexington aircraft carriers (1943), and was entrusted with an exhibition, “Road to Victory”, at the MoMA… At the end of the conflict, he took over the direction of the photographic department of the symbolic New York museum. His exhibition, “The Family of Man”, (1955) with three hundred and fifty photos on the themes of pacifism and humanism won him international renown: it travelled through thirty-seven countries (including the USSR) and was admired by over nine million visitors. Listed in the UNESCO world heritage, a recreation of this exhibition has been housed since 1994 at the Château de Clervaux (Luxembourg).

Edward Steichen_US Marines
Edward Steichen_US Marines


Edward Steichen_Commendation
Edward Steichen_Commendation