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Imogen Cunningham

American
(1883–1976)

Alfred Stieglitz
1934

Gelatin silver print
18 x 14 in. (45.72 x 35.56 cm)
Museum Permanent Collection
1984.1626

Imogen Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon in 1883 and graduated from the University of Washington in 1907 with a degree in Chemistry, a degree that allowed her to study the science behind photography. After graduating Cunningham went to work in the Seattle photographic studio of Edward S. Curtis and learned the platinum print process from him. She further refined her print development process in Germany producing a paper titled About the Direct Development of Platinum Paper for Brown Tones. In the process of returning from Germany and before she settled in California, Cunningham met Alfred Stieglitz in New York for the first time.

After returning to settle Cunningham took her friend artist Roi Partridge to Mt. Rainier where she photographed him in the nude. Her image of him was published in the Seattle newspaper Town Crier, which, because it was woman photographing a man nude, caused a scandal. Cunningham subsequently married Partridge and they moved to San Francisco in 1917.

In San Francisco Cunningham joined forces fellow photographers and helped to start Group f/64. The group posted a notice in Camera Craft magazine in 1934.


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