Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham began to take photographs in 1901 while she was a student at the University of Washington. She was attracted to photography by the work of Gertrude Kasebier, an internationally known pictorialist. “I kept thinking all the time ‘1 wish I could be as good as Gertrude Kasebier’” Her career began with a part time job in the Seattle studio of Edward S. Curtis, more famous for his remarkable documentation of the North American Indian than for the portrait work from which he made his living. There she learned to make platinum prints in both quantity and quality.

She won a scholarship for foreign study and attended photographic courses at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden Germany, in 1909. The school had recently revived its photographic department under the direction of Robert Luther, a photo scientist of international fame. While abroad she visited Alvin Langdon Coburn in London and upon her return to America in 1910, Alfred Stieglitz. From both she gained great inspiration.

On returning home she opened a studio in Seattle, and soon won national recognition not only for her portraits but for her pictorial work. A portfolio of these pictures was published in Wilson’s Photographic Magazine in March, 1914. There she stated a philosophy which has guided her ever since: “One must be able to gain an understanding at short notice and close range of the beauties of character, intellect, and spirit so as to be able to draw out the best qualities and make them show in the outer aspect of the sitter. To do this one must not have a too pronounced notion of what constitutes beauty in the external and, above all, must not worship it. To worship beauty for its own sake is narrow, and one surely cannot derive from it that esthetic pleasure which comes from finding beauty in the commonest things.”

I have been looking at Imogen Cunninghams work, from her book called on the body. The images in the book are really fascinating to look at, it shows these women and also men aswell as childer very naturally. I like mostly how her work is set in the natural woodland, the natural life really shows the beauty of nudity in each of the photographs. I also like how she capture close ups of the models faces as they pose naked, these photographs each show the persons expression in their face as they pose so confidently. She also uses lighting focusing on the nude body and also outlining the body.

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