Alfred Stieglitz's contribution to the history of photography extends far beyond his photographic work. He worked tirelessly through his efforts as a photographer, collector, curator, writer, and publisher to secure photography's role as a legitimate medium of fine art. Although his early photographs were Pictorialist in style, he eventually came to believe that his photographs could be metaphorical equivalents of his internal feelings. Stieglitz promulgated the idea that a straight, unaltered photograph could be a means of personal expression. His late work focused in depth on a few subjects, including New York City, a portrait series of his wife, the painter Georgia O'Keeffe, and the cloud studies that he called Equivalents, which represented the culmination of his theories on modernism and photography.
Stieglitz was born in 1864 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Enrolled in 1882 as a student of mechanical engineering in the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, he was first exposed to photography when he took a photochemistry course in 1883. From then on he was involved with photography, first as a technical and scientific challenge, later as an artistic one. In 1905, with Edward Steichen, he founded the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, which later became known simply as 291. Stieglitz was also a founder of the Photo-Secessionist and Pictorialist photography movements in the United States and promoted them in Camera Notes and Camera Work, the influential journals that he founded and edited. In 1929 Stieglitz opened a gallery called An American Place, which he was to operate until his death in 1946, in New York.
His work is exhibited in numerous museums and prominent institutions and is part of public and private collections all around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; George Eastman House, Rochester; Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Stieglitz’s work has been published in many books and catalogues including Stieglitz, Camera Work (2013), Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set - Volume I & II: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs (2002), Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs & Writings (1999), Alfred Stieglitz (Aperture Masters of Photography) (2005), and Alfred Stieglitz (1976).