Photography’s revolutionary

January 27th, 2013 7:06 am| by admin

The Luxembourg-born American photographer Edward Steichen (1879-1973) is one of the most influential photographers in the history of the art. At the age of 15, he began studying lithography, and alongside his studies he taught himself to draw and paint. A year later, he bought his first camera and soon after started to work as a photographer.

Steichen was a revolutionary – he was one of the first people in the US to use a colour camera and therefore one of the earliest to experiment with colour photography. His work was groundbreaking, not only in terms of technique but also in terms of his approach, as he became part of the Pictorialist movement. Up until the Pictorialist movement, many maintained that photography was merely a recording of reality, but the movement sought out to prove that photography could be art too. The movement founded Pictorialism in the photography world − a style where the photographer sought out to create an image or situation, rather than just record it. This is evident in Steichen’s portraits as well as the fact that in 1911 he became one of the very first fashion photographers. Despite being accused of selling out, Steichen was adamant that photographing fashion was an art form. He later moved into portraits and took some definitive pictures of celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill, many of which are on display at the exhibition.

Steichen’s work is very broad and diverse, and the exhibition has a vast display of his stunning portraits, which range from stylish fashion portraits to ghostly black and white portraits dating back to the very beginning of the last century. There are also breathtaking landscapes, both in colour and black and white. There are furthermore some photographs of various situations, such as street photographs and experimental subjects that serve as a valuable documentation of life and the artform in the early decades of the 20th century.

The photographs on display are multifaceted, not only in their nature but also due to the fact that Steichen’s work starts at the beginning of the 20th century and spans several decades. The exhibition also contains select photographs by various other artists that serve as proof of his lasting influence on other artists and the world of photography as a whole.

The exhibition is a must-see for those who are devout fans of the medium, and no less so for those who know nothing of the artform, as you couldn’t wish for a better way to take a beginners’ course on the history of photography.

The exhibition is hosted by the National Museum of Photography, which has cleverly chosen the basement of the Black Diamond of the Royal Library. Although it might be seen as incidental, putting the exhibition on display in the windowless basement accentuates the romantic atmosphere of the dim photographs − particularly the portraits.

Apart from the temporary exhibitions, the Black Diamond houses the National Museum of Photograpy, the Royal Book Museum and the Danish Museum of illustration. The central location of the Black Diamond, combined with the comparatively late opening hours, makes it an ideal place to unwind after a long day at work, as well as a lazy weekend stroll.


Edward Steichen

National Museum of Photography at the Black Diamond, Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1, Cph K; ends Feb 9; open Mon-Sat 10:00-19:00; Tickets 40kr, concessions available, under-16s free adm;

Can Tom Courtenay get an Oscar nom 48 years after his first one?
At Cinemas: Pensioners and Panned
Mad Max: Fury Road and (please god) the forthcoming Star Wars 7 aside, 2015...
Who said the holiday in the skunk lab wouldn't come in handy one day?
Film Review: The Martian
Mercifully, The Martian wastes little time on exposition, instead literally...
If the nursing staff knows the seniors' toilet habits they can save money and time (photo: iStock)
Hjørring Municipality wants to monitor how the elderly use adult nappies
Hjørring Municipality in northern Jutland has proposed using chips to moni...
Arla expecting sales boost from exposure (photo: Arla)
Upcoming Hollywood film ‘Burnt’ will feature Arla product placement
The Danish dairy giant Arla has confirmed its Castello line of cheeses will...
SAS is 'shipping up to Boston' come March (photo: iStock)
SAS taxis out four new routes from Copenhagen
Scandinavian airline SAS has announced that it intends to launch new routes...
The defence minister, Peter Christensen, was practically jumping into the cockpit to welcome home the pilots (photo: Defence Ministry)
Defence Minister welcomes home F-16 squadron
The new defence minister, Peter Christensen, was at hand at Skrydstrup Air ...