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Alfred Stieglitz and Clarence White, Experiment 27 1909

Alfred Stieglitz and Clarence White, Experiment 27 1909

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Alfred Stieglitz and Clarence White

Experiment 27, 1909

Camera Work XXVII

Photogravure, 20.5 x 15.9 cm

Both Clarence Hudson White and Alfred Stieglitz were founding members of the Photo-Secession in 1902, based in the New York City area, and it was during this period that the two became close friends and collaborators. They shared a deep reverence for Pictorialism, which White pursued most notably through his painterly images of family members and intimate friends. Atmospheric portraits were his forte and were greatly admired by Stieglitz, who reproduced them regularly in the early issues of Camera Work. 

In 1907, White and Stieglitz collaborated on a series of experimental works ostensibly to test lenses as well as new photographic plates and printing processes. The idea developed in consequence of various lively discussions with some painters about portrait painting and the impossibility of the camera to do certain things. Challenged, the two photographers resolved to disprove the painters’ theories. Two models from among their friends and acquaintances were asked to participate: a young woman named Mabel Cramer and a second woman known to history only as Miss Thompson. 

The resulting images, purported to be sixty negatives produced over a two week period, are more visually aligned with White’s aesthetic and were likely printed by him; it is believed that Stieglitz served mainly as an advisor. The portraits, both clothed and nude, range from demure and closely cropped to more classical, full-length depictions alongside visual props or within carefully staged scenes. While the pair exposed approximately sixty negatives, only a handful of physical prints were made.

Three photographs from their collaboration were included Camera Work XXVII in 1909. (Christies)

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