Edward Steichen, a master in the field

Edward Steichen & Gloria Swanson

Vintage photogravure by Edward Steichen, “Gloria Swanson”, 1924. Printed 1930. . (The silver print of this iconic image sold for $540,000 at Phillips de Pury & Company, New York – 04/24/2007.

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GSSize: 9″ ½ h x 7 “½ w

Edward Jean Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator.

E. Steichen was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz’ groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Together Stieglitz and Steichen opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, which eventually became known as 291 after its address.

Edward Steichen, born in Luxembourg in 1879, transformed photography with his brilliantly conceived and executed portraits. This exhibition includes celebrity images, fashion photography, and commercial advertising work, all of which were initially consumed, not in gallery presentations, but in magazines. Reaching a wide popular audience in print, Steichen exerted an unprecedented impact on an evolving modernist sensibility during the 1920s and ’30s.

Soon after moving from Paris to New York in 1923, Steichen read a Vanity Fair article that claimed he was giving up photography for painting, when in fact the opposite was true. Upon correcting the error with the magazine’s editor, Steichen was invited to a lunch with publisher Condé Nast, who promptly offered him the position of chief photographer. Steichen accepted, and his portraits of luminaries of the theater, literature, music, and the visual arts, along with those of scientists, athletes, and fashionable “It Girls” were published in both Vanity Fair and Vogue from 1923 to 1938. His work set a new standard for future portrait photographers,  whose work would appear in both magazines and galleries.

About Gloria Swanson…

Gloria Swanson, original name Gloria May Josephine Svensson    (born March 17, 1899, Chicago, Ill., U.S.—died April 4, 1983, New York, N.Y.), American motion-picture, stage, and television actress known primarily as a glamorous Hollywood star during the 1920s and as the fading movie queen Norma Desmond in the 1950 film “Sunset Boulevard”.

G. Swanson was the only child of a civilian official of the U.S. Army transport service, whose work during Swanson’s childhood took the family to Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. While touring the Essanay film studio during a visit to an aunt in Chicago when she was 14 years old, she asked if she could appear in a crowd scene. She enjoyed the work, stayed on as an extra, and was soon playing bit roles in two-reel comedies. Her parents separated in 1916, and she and her mother moved to Hollywood, where G. Swanson got a job at the Mack Sennett studio.gloria-swanson-1928

After establishing herself as both a bathing beauty and a comedienne, G. Swanson was hired by Cecil B. DeMille and achieved stardom in a series of feature films that included Don’t Change Your Husband (1919), Male and Female (1919), Zaza (1923), Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1923), and Madame Sans-Gêne (1925). She then formed her own production company, making such pictures as Sadie Thompson (1928), Queen Kelly (1929, unfinished), and her first talkie, The Trespasser (1929). After several lighter vehicles, she tired of the poor scripts available, stopped making films, and started several business ventures outside the motion-picture industry.

In 1950, G. Swanson made a historic comeback in the highly acclaimed Sunset Boulevard. Although she appeared in a few later films, she devoted most of the remainder of her career to television and the theatre. Her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, was published in 1980.

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