Musee de L'Elysee
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Edward Steichen
dal 16/1/2008 al 23/3/2008

Segnalato da

Marie-Claire Mermoud

calendario eventi  :: 


Edward Steichen

Musee de L'Elysee, Lausanne

Lives in Photography. The most complete overview of the work of the photographer. The exhibition is organised around 250 vintage prints from major public and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic. A successful painter as well, Steichen decided to abandon painting in early 1920s. His work ranged across portraits and landscapes, he also ventured into war photography and aerial photography.

comunicato stampa

Curated by William A. Ewing, Todd Brandow and Nathalie Herschdorfer

This is the first European retrospective and the most complete overview of the work of the American photographer Edward Steichen. The exhibition is organised around 250 vintage prints from major public and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic.

With his curious, inventive mind, Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was one of the most prolific and influential photographers of the 20th century. A Luxemburger by birth, Steichen co-founded the Photo Secession group with Alfred Stieglitz and was an active contributor to the journal Camera Work. A successful painter as well, Steichen decided to abandon painting in early 1920s, realizing that his real talent lay with photography. His work ranged across portraits and landscapes. He also ventured into war photography and aerial photography. His innovative vision was brought to bear on almost every sphere, and his creativity was productively expressed in graphic design, typography and art directing.

Seduced by his pictorialist photography, Condé Nast made him chief photographer of Vogue and Vanity Fair in 1923. He was also head of the photography department at MoMA, where he organised the famous exhibition The Family of Man. This show, which began touring in 1955, was seen by nine million visitors around the world. It was the crowning moment of his career. Today on permanent display in Luxembourg, Steichen’s birthplace, The Family of Man was one of the great exhibitions of the twentieth century and remains a reference, over fifty years after its creation.

“But whatever version of Steichen one prefers—the ‘pure’ artist of the early years, the herald of avant-garde art, the consummate commercial image-maker, or the world-class impresario—the wide range of his skills is indisputable. To varying degrees and at various moments, he made his mark in lithography, painting, photography, writing, picture editing, graphic design, art direction, industrial design, exhibition design, and museum curating. And when the need or opportunity arose, he could launch vigorous polemics, raise funds for grand curatorial projects, direct films, and serve as a one-man jury (the editor of the influential magazine U.S. Camera eventually dismissed his other regular jury members and let Steichen rule alone). Decade after decade, he remained a tireless spokesperson for the blossoming art and communications medium of photography.
Few domains of photography went unexplored by Steichen to some degree, and thanks to his characteristic zeal for experimentation, most of them benefited from his innovations. He worked in numerous genres—from portraits, nudes, landscapes and cityscapes, still lifes, and flowers to documentary work, news photography, theater and dance, war (aerial reconnaissance in World War I, combat photography in World War II), propaganda, advertising, and fashion—and with many techniques, including new printing processes in both monochrome and color, photomontage and photomurals, and even a three-dimensional rendering he called ‘photo-sculpture.‘ From enfant terrible in 1900 to the world’s highest-paid and (arguably) best-known photographer in 1925 to the field’s most powerful curator by 1950, his trajectory was impressive by any art-world standards. Looking at the length and breadth of his career, photography historian Joel Smith has rightly concluded that Steichen was unquestionably ‘the fastest-moving person in the room‘.”

(From the introduction by William A. Ewing “A Boy Who Has New Ideas,” p. 19 of the exhibition catalogue Steichen, Lives in photography)

“From dreamy landscapes and soft, painterly portraits in the first years of the twentieth century to the fast-paced and lucrative contemporary fashion work of the 1920s, the apparent extremes of Edward Steichen’s photographic lives seem difficult to bridge. It would be simplistic to look to the ‘master work’ for elements of genius, neatly distanced from events in his life. The years surrounding World War I were a complicated time in a rapidly changing world. And in these years, Steichen proved to be a complex individual: photographer, painter, plant breeder, and messenger to the art world. The synthesis of elements from these various endeavors lent his work a richness that crossed boundaries, both social and artistic. Misapprehensions about the social aspect of Steichen’s art have persisted beyond the modernist era, and only now are the broad dimensions of his work being addressed.”

(From the text by Ronald J. Gedrim, “Finding the Real Magician–Light Itself: Voulangis, 1908–22,” p. 131 of the exhibition catalogue Steichen, Lives in photography).

“’The greatest photographer of the century’—that Edward Steichen could merit this grandiloquent claim is due to a number of factors. He had an evident talent for selfpromotion; he explored numerous genres; his career took many forms and spanned several epochs (in a sense, he could be said to have summed up twentieth-century photography all on his own); and, even more convincing, he managed to break out of the narrow confines of photographic practice. Like his mentor Alfred Stieglitz, he shifted the focus of his activity in the medium from production to promotion, to the extent of evolving into a kind of ’metaphotographer,’ acquiring a distance that enabled him to incarnate all other photographers.”

(From the text by Olivier Lugon, “Edward Steichen as Exhibition Designer,” p. 267 of the exhibition catalogue Steichen, Lives in photography).

“The ramifications and influence of Steichen’s activities in the field endure. From the beginning of his life in photography to its end, he and his works have continuing relevance to the medium in our own time. Edward Steichen appears as one of those cultural forces that each generation must discover anew and reevaluate for itself. This round of the discussion has only begun.”

(From the text by A.D. Coleman, “Steichen Then, Now, and Again: Legacies of an Icon,” p.286 of the exhibition catalogue Steichen, Lives in photography).

Simultaneously with this retrospective in Lausanne, the Musée de l’Elysée in collaboration with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, presents Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years at the Kunsthaus Zürich from January 11 to March 30, 2008.

Image: Greta Garbo, 1928. Courtesy Bank of America La Salle Collection, Chicago © Condé Nast Publications

Press Conference January 17, 2008 at 11 am in presence of the Grand-daughter of the artist, Francesca Calderone-Steichen

Opening Friday, January 18, 2008 at 6 p.m.

Musée de l'Elysée
18, avenue de l'Elysée 1014 Lausanne - Switzerland
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Monday except holidays.
For group tours, doors open at 9 a.m. (reserve 2 days ahead).

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