Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879-March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator, born in Luxembourg. His family moved to the United States in 1881 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1900.
Having established himself as a fine-art painter, in the beginning of the 20th century, Steichen assumed the pictorialist approach in photography and proved himself a master of it. In 1905, Steichen helped create the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, with Alfred Stieglitz. After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into fashion photography.
In World War II he served as Director of the Naval Photographic Institute. After the war, Steichen served until 1962 as the Director of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man in 1955, a vast exhibition consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries. Steichen’s brother-in-law, Carl Sandburg, wrote the introduction for the exhibition catalog (ISBN 0810961695). As had been Steichen’s wish, the exhibition was donated to the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. It is now permanently housed in the Luxembourg village Clervaux.
In February 2006, a copy of Steichen’s early pictorialist photograph, The Pond-Moonlight (1904), reached the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction, U.S. $2.9 million.
The photograph was taken in Mamaroneck, New York, in Westchester County, and features a wooded area and pond, with moonlight appearing between the trees and reflecting on the pond. Part of the reason for its value and rarity is that it is a very early example of colour photography, produced using the autochrome process. Contributing to its high price is that there are only three known copies in existence; there are two in museum collections in addition to the print sold at auction in 2006.
The pond - Moonlight, 1904
While the print appears to be a color photograph, the first true color photographic process, the autochrome process, was not available until 1907. Steichen created the impression of color by manually applying layers of light-sensitive gumsto the paper. Only three known versions of the Pond-Moonlight are still in existence and, as a result of the hand-layering of the gums, each is unique. In addition to the auctioned print, the other two versions are held in museum collections. The extraordinary sale price of the print is, in part, attributable to its one-of-a-kind character and to its rarity
Norma Shearer (1935)
Kendall Lee (1925)
Marlene Dietrich (1934)
His work is considered some of the first modern fashion photographs. He poses his models in very classy and elegant poses. No matter what they’re doing with the props or objects, they maintain their sophistication with their statuesque poses. He creates women that anyone looking at the photo would want to be.I love the photo of Kendel Lee (1925). She make the insignificant object in her hand seem very important with her graceful pose. Also the photo of Gloria Swanson, with the veil over her face, is unique and has an avante garde feel. He always finds a way to use his props, such as the lace, to enhance the elegant refinement of his subjects.