"Take good photographs, and the art will take care of itself.
– Edward Steichen
In 1923, American Edward Steichen (1879–1973) accepted the post of chief photographer for the Condé Nast-owned magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair in New York. By that time, he had already earned a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic as a painter and a leading figure in fine art photography. Over the next fifteen years, he revolutionized fashion photography, became one of the most famous portrait photographers in the world, and turned the job into one of the most prestigious photography positions in North America.
Steichen made a stylistic leap in fashion photography that was equal in magnitude to cinema’s transition from silent pictures to sound. He never fell back on formula, and continually found new ways to portray his sitters and their clothes to advantage. Steichen’s style, and the skill with which he deployed it, prompted one admiring critic to claim that to be photographed by him was to be “Steichenized.”
An innovator throughout his career, Steichen applied his talents to portraiture, fashion, the nude, landscape, dance, theatre and advertising. After 1947, Steichen further established his prominence as the director of the Department of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where he curated 46 exhibitions including his landmark photo exhibition The Family of Man. Today he remains one of the most studied, influential and controversial figures in the history of photography.