Concerning America, and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself

29 Sep 2023

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Emmet Gowin, photographer and professor of visual arts, Princeton University. In the first of two lectures honoring the exhibition Stieglitz in the Darkroom, on view at the National Gallery of Art from October 4, 1992, to February 14, 1993, photographer Emmet Gowin shares the relevance of Alfred Stieglitz’s (1864-1946) work to his own. The exhibition of 75 photographic prints, chosen from the "key set" of 1,600 photographs given to the Gallery by Georgia O’Keeffe in 1949 and 1980, spanned Stieglitz’s career. It demonstrated how a photographer can alter the aesthetics of his art and meaning through cropping, scale, tone, paper selection, and printing process- and also the extraordinary commitment a photographer has to his work. One of the most important photographers of his generation, Gowin (born 1941) is the son of a Methodist minister and considered America and Alfred Stieglitz (1934) to be his second bible. For this lecture recorded on November 29, 1992, Gowin used the title of his undergraduate senior thesis, demonstrating his strong connection with Stieglitz and Robert Frank’s The Americans (1958). Tracing the influence of Stieglitz throughout his career, Gowin shares how his work transitioned from photographing primarily human beings to making aerial photographs of toxic waste sites and nuclear reservations.


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