Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Beach, California



After the Photo-Secession: American Pictorial Photography, 1910-1955


Nothing helped the recognition of photography as an art in this country like the Photo-Secession, a high-minded group of select photographers organized in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz. After the Photo-Secession disbanded in 1910, pictorial photography thrived for another fifty years.

The rich and often overlooked pictorial photography movement is the focus of After the Photo-Secession: American Pictorial Photography, 1910-1955. The exhibition features 75 photographs by 50 photographers including A. Aubrey Bodine, William Mortensen (a Laguna Beach resident for 30 years), Will Connell, Jane Reece, Eleanor Park Custis, Imogen Cunningham, Adolf Fassbender, and Wellington Lee. Organized by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the show is made possible at LAM by the A. Gary Anderson Family Foundation and the William Gillespie Foundation. The exhibition will be on view at the Laguna Art Museum May 1-July 11, 1999. A 200-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Stimulated by an evolving progressive American middle class, pictorialists embraced a wide range of artistic styles, including elements of modernism and commercialism, in order to convey an acceptable emotional appeal and to tap common feelings with their photography. The pictorialists who focused on traditional beauty tended to strive for simplicity with soft-focus effects and hand-manipulated imagery. Photographers influenced by modernism embraced contemporary subjects, rendered more sharply focused images, and used bold visual effects.

During the pictorial era, camera clubs flourished in most cities and offered a variety of activities. The public flocked to pictorialist exhibitions and created a constant demand for magazines and books on photography. Photography became known as the art of the people, and women entered the pictorial ranks in large numbers.

Images from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Axel Bahnsen (1907-1978), Conscience, 1941, gelatin silver print, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Wellington Lee, Girl from Mars, 1955, gelatin silver print, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Aubrey A. Bodine, Baltimore Harbor, 1940s, gelatin silver print, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Adolf Fassbender, Dynamic Symbol, New York World's Fair, 1939, gelatin silver print, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Resource Library editor's note:

Please click on the images to enlarge them.

Read more in Resource Library about the Laguna Art Museum.

The above accompanying images were reprinted in Resource Library on 5/12/99 with permission of the Laguna Art Museum If you have questions or comments regarding the materials please contact the Laguna Art Museum.

For California art history overall see California Art History, California Artists: 19th-21st Century, California Impressionism and California Regionalism and California School of Painters.

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

rev. 10/18/10

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.