Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Beard, Dorathea K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Photo-Secession--History; Photography; Artistic--History


The Photo-Secession was an organization formed in 1903 to promote the Pictorial style in Photography. Its initial task was to establish photography among the visual fine arts. In the process of promoting photography as an art, Alfred Stieglitz, head of the organization, and his close associate, Edward Steichen, found that they had broadened their own areas of interest to include the other visual arts. Through its exhibitions at the Little Galleries of the Photo Secession, or "291", which opened in 1905, and the quarterly of the Photo- Secession, Camera Work, which began publication in 1903, the Photo-Secession thus became the stage on which the European, and later the American, modern artists would first appear in this country. The Photo-Secession's conversion to an organization whose main purpose was to promote modern art is the subject of this thesis. It begins with an overview of the history of the Photo-Secession. This history is used to establish a context for the discussion of its seminal role in bringing the art and ideas of early modernism to the American public. Alfred Stieglitz emerges as the organizer of an experiment in which artists of the new styles and sympathetic critics could together redefine visual art. The second chapter examines Stieglitz's ideology and its effect on his direction of the Photo-Secession away from photography. The sources of Stieglitz's philosophy are examined for their effect on his exhibition choices for 291 and his editorial direction for Camera Work. The contributions of four lead critics of Camera Work are examined in Chapter 3. Charles Caffin, Sadakichi Hartmann, Marius de Zayas and Benjamin de Casseres helped define the place of modern art within the Photo-Secession, the art world, and society as a whole. The critical approaches brought to bear on modern art at Camera Work ranged from Symbolist values of spirituality in art to the examination of art's role in society, in which some critics saw art as a healing influence on the culture and others saw it as a challenge to the entire social status quo.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [138]-144)


v, 144 pages




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