Sign In Sign out

Edward Jean Steichen

Édouard Jean Steichen

Edward Jean Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973) was a Luxembourgish American photographer, painter, and curator, renowned as one of the most prolific and influential figures in the history of photography.

Steichen was credited with transforming photography into an art form. His photographs appeared in Alfred Stieglitz's groundbreaking magazine Camera Work more often than anyone else during its publication run from 1903 to 1917. Stieglitz hailed him as "the greatest photographer that ever lived".

As a pioneer of fashion photography, Steichen's gown images for the magazine Art et Décoration in 1911 were the first modern fashion photographs to be published. From 1923 to 1938, Steichen served as chief photographer for the Condé Nast magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair, while also working for many advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson. During these years, Steichen was regarded as the most popular and highest paid photographer in the world.

After the United States' entry into World War II, Steichen was invited by the United States Navy to serve as Director of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit. In 1944, he directed the war documentary The Fighting Lady, which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

From 1947 to 1961, Steichen served as Director of the Department of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art. While there, he curated and assembled exhibits including The Family of Man, which was seen by nine million people. In 2003, the Family of Man photographic collection was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in recognition of its historical value.

In February 2006, a print of Steichen's early pictorialist photograph, The Pond—Moonlight (1904), sold for US$2.9 million—at the time, the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction.

Steichen was born Éduard Jean Steichen in Bivange, Luxembourg, the son of Jean-Pierre and Marie Kemp Steichen. Jean-Pierre Steichen immigrated to the United States in 1880. Marie Steichen brought the infant Edward along after Jean-Pierre had settled in Hancock in Michigan's Upper Peninsula copper country. Éduard's sister Lilian Steichen was born in Hancock. She later married poet Carl Sandburg. The family moved to Milwaukee in 1889, when Éduard was 10. There he learned German and English at school, while speaking Luxembourgish at home.

In 1894, at fifteen, Steichen began attending Pio Nono College, a Catholic boys' high school, where his artistic talents were noticed. His drawings in particular were said to show promise. He quit high school to begin a four-year lithography apprenticeship with the American Fine Art Company of Milwaukee. After hours, he would sketch and draw, and he began to teach himself painting. Having discovered a camera shop near his work, he visited frequently until he persuaded himself to buy his first camera, a secondhand Kodak box "detective" camera, in 1895. Steichen and his friends who were also interested in drawing and photography pooled their funds, rented a small room in a Milwaukee, WI office building, and began calling themselves the Milwaukee Art Students League. The group hired Richard Lorenz and Robert Schade for occasional lectures.

Steichen became a U.S. citizen in 1900 and signed the naturalization papers as Edward J. Steichen, but he continued to use his birth name of Éduard until after the First World War.

This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here →

More ...
Edward Jean Steichen Artworks
View all 16 artworks