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Pictorialism and Modern Art

The “Deal” in the title of this picture refers to Deal, New Jersey, where Alfred Stieglitz took the picture. No longer concerned with photographs that looked like paintings, Stieglitz now emphasized modern art and photographs that looked like the work of a camera rather than a paintbrush.

Creative photographs, according to Stieglitz, should be photographic. Everyday subjects came into sharp focus in Stieglitz’s lens, preventing viewers from escaping into romantic images of life. No more soft, misty effects, contrast was now useful. A full tonal range of blacks and whites is evident in this print, unmistakably made by a camera.

Stieglitz still thought of the photograph as an avenue of expression, an idea he had fully developed with the Pictorialists. Now, however, he added concerns of modern art like line, shape and balance. This photography was really about photography.


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Minneapolis Institute of Arts