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

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.