Steichen, Eduard Jean (1879–1973) By Goley, Mary Anne
Photographer, painter, curator and horticulturalist Eduard Jean Steichen was born in Luxembourg and immigrated to the US in 1881. He was self-taught, favoring soft, harmonious tones in both paintings and photographs. In 1905 he and Alfred Stieglitz collaborated to launch the Little Galleries of the Photo Secession (known as “291”) for which Steichen curated the first exhibits in the US by modern French artists. The international success of his double-negative portrait, Rodin—Le Penseur (1904) and sales from an exhibit of paintings at Eugene Glaenzer & Co. led Steichen to Paris in 1906, where his work was influenced by the Fauves and experimentation with autochromes, an early color photography process. Subsequently inspired by the concept of the fourth dimension, his work became hard edged. Steichen returned to New York in 1923, where he was appointed the chief photographer for Condé Nast . He was the first director of the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Photography (1947–62). In 1955 his photographic essay, The Family of Man, toured internationally and he began a film essay of a Shad Blow tree, which was never completed.