Minneapois Institute of Arts
New Pictures at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Edward Steichen Bequest Benefits MIA Collection

Posted Aug 11, 2011

Edward Steichen, American (born Luxembourg), 1879 – 1973
Eugene O’Neill, 1932
Gelatin silver print
Bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and George Eastman House 82.28.52

In 1982, the MIA received one hundred photographs by the great American photographer Edward Steichen (1879-1973), through a bequest from his widow, Joanna T. Steichen. Edward Steichen was a very prolific photographer, working over his long life in many genres, such as pictorial and war photography. The one hundred vintage prints that came to the museum were primarily from the 1920s and 1930s, when Steichen worked for the Condé Nast publications Vogue and Vanity Fair. They include striking studio portraits of such leading entertainers as Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan, W. C. Fields, Greta Garbo, Paul Robeson, and Mae West.

Ms. Steichen initially made a large bequest to the George Eastman House (Rochester, New York), instructing it to distribute batches of her late husband’s work to other museums that were committed to photography. The MIA was among a mere thirteen institutions chosen. Previous to this gift, the only Steichen pictures owned by the MIA were photogravures from Camera Work, a high-quality quarterly published by Alfred Stieglitz from 1903 to 1917. Thus, this bequest greatly increased both the number and type of Steichen’s work in our collection

Christian A. Peterson, associate curator of photographs

Wish I Was There

Posted Jan 24, 2011

Left: Edward Weston, Pepper No. 30, 1930, gelatin silver print, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Kate and Hall J. Peterson Fund  72.22
Right: Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage, 1907, photogravure, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund  64.34.36.9

For many, January first is a day to nurse a hangover and watch too much college football. But that date was significant for the families of two famous American photographers.

On January 1, 1864, the parents of Alfred Stieglitz celebrated his birth in New Jersey. And on January 1, 1958, the sons of Edward Weston mourned his death in California.

Did, by chance, these two towering figures in twentieth-century photography ever meet? Just once, according to Weston, who kept diaries (he termed “daybooks”) much of his adult life. One entry recounted his November pilgrimage to New York, where the 36-year-old Weston showed the 58-year-old Stieglitz some of his photographs.

Weston claimed that others he shared his portfolio with in New York “showered him with praise,” while Stieglitz “laid it open to attack.” Don’t we wish we could have been there too, in order to take sides? Stieglitz versus Weston is a difficult choice.