Photo-Secession


Photo-Secession
Photo-Secessionist, n.
/foh'toh si sesh"euhn/, n.
an association of photographers founded in New York City in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen that advocated the development and public recognition of photography as a fine art.

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Group of U.S. photographers influenced by the Pictorialist movement.

Founded in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz, the Photo-Secession sought recognition of photography as an art to be judged on its own terms. It was akin to such groups as the Linked Ring in London, and its name reflected that of the Sezession movement in Austria and Germany. The group regularly showed its work at the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, also known as "291" (its address on Fifth Avenue in New York City), a gallery run by Stieglitz. While Stieglitz did not believe in retouching or manipulating negatives or prints, others of the group, such as Edward Steichen, were adherents of the impressionistic soft-focus school and the new techniques. By 1910 many members of the group left due to different aesthetic visions. The record of the Photo-Secession is contained in the quarterly Camera Work (1903–17).

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▪ American society
      the first influential group of American photographers that worked to have photography accepted as a fine art. Led by Alfred Stieglitz (Stieglitz, Alfred), the group also included Edward Steichen (Steichen, Edward), Clarence H. White (White, Clarence H.), Gertrude Käsebier (Käsebier, Gertrude), and Alvin Langdon Coburn (Coburn, Alvin Langdon). These photographers broke away from the Camera Club of New York in 1902 and pursued Pictorialism, or techniques of manipulating negatives and prints so as to approximate the effects of drawings, etchings, and oil paintings. The Photo-Secession was inspired by art movements in Europe, such as the Linked Ring, that had similar goals.

      The Photo-Secession actively promoted its ideas. Stieglitz edited and published the important quarterly Camera Work and opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession (also known as “291,” the gallery's address on Fifth Avenue), providing a place for the members to exhibit their work. In 1910 the Photo-Secession sponsored an international show of more than 500 photographs by its members or by photographers whose aims were similar to its own. The show, occupying more than half of the exhibition space at the Albright Art Gallery (now the Albright-Knox Gallery) in Buffalo, New York, was a sensation and significantly advanced the acceptance of photography as an art form.

      By 1910, however, the members of the Photo-Secession had become divided. Some continued to manipulate their negatives and prints to achieve nonphotographic effects, while others came to feel that such manipulation destroyed tone and texture and was inappropriate to photography. Torn by this division, the group soon dissolved.

Additional Reading
Robert Doty, Photo Secession: Photography as a Fine Art (1960); William Innes Homer, Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession (1983).

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Universalium. 2010.

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