Norton Museum of Art

West Palm Beach, Florida



American Modernism from the Stieglitz Group


Few figures contributed more to shaping the development of 20th century American art than Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). A pioneering American photographer, he was already considered an artist of significance by the late 1880s. Had his career ended at the turn of the century, Stieglitz still would have been remembered as an artist of unique vision who helped promote photography to a level of high art comparable with painting, sculpture and the other graphic arts. But Stieglitz did not stop at 1900.

A man of deeply held convictions, Stieglitz supported - often alone - some of the most progressive developments in early 20th-century art, crusades for modern art he described as "The Cause." In 1905, with his friend and fellow photographer, Edward Steichen, Stieglitz opened The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, later simply called 291. This gallery, opened to provide a venue for rarely exhibited photographers, quickly became the place to view avant-garde art of any kind, in any media. (left: Charles Demuth, Eggplant, Carrots and Tomatoes, 1927, watercolor on paper, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL)

Among the artists whose careers Stieglitz helped launch at 291 were Charles Demuth, Arthur G. Dove,Marsden Hartley, John Marin,Alfred Henry Maurer,Charles Sheeler, Joseph Stella, Paul Strand, Max Weber, William Zorach , and Georgia O'Keeffe, who eventually married the photographer in 1924. Stieglitz was a tireless and selfless advocate for the artists he supported, repeatedly addressing their financial needs, before his own. That most of the painters, sculptors and photographers he represented have become the crucial figures in American modernism is a tribute both to Stieglitz's insightful vision and his exhaustive efforts in their behalf.

American Modernism from the Stieglitz Group brings together outstanding examples from the Norton Museum of Art's remarkable holdings of photography and graphic art, augmented by a few key works from local private collections. The exhibition includes dazzling Maine watercolors by John Marin, elegant still lifes by Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler and Edward Steichen, important prints and drawings by Stuart Davis, landscapes by Paul Strand and Georgia O'Keeffe, elegant tropical flowers by Joseph Stella and of course examples of Stieglitz's photography. (left: John Marin, Green Marine with Boats, Marine Series, 1935,watercolor on paper, 15 1/2 x 20 1/8 inches, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL, Purchased through the R. H. Norton Fund, 56.2)

This exhibition is organized by the Norton Museum of Art to accompany Marsden Hartley: American Modern . This focus show offers the development of modern art in America as a context for Hartley's own rise to prominence which Alfred Stieglitz helped make possible.

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/22/10

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