Alfred Stieglitz was born on January 1, 1864 in Hoboken, New Jersey. He plays a central role in the history of American photography.
From 1881-90 Stieglitz pursued engineering and photochemical studies in Berlin, worked with pictorialist photography and then went back to New York. First he worked in a photo business, but then in 1892 he started to write for The American Amateur Photographer and starting in 1897 for Camera Notes. Alfred Stieglitz wanted to bring about the establishment of photography in the canon of the visual arts. In 1902, he founded the "Photo-Secession" together with Steichen and Coburn.
In 1903 he became editor of the photo journal "Camera Work", which became the platform for avant-garde photography. At the same time, the journal served as an exhibit catalog for the first private photo gallery in the US: Stieglitz opened "Gallery 291" in 1905 at 291 Fifth Avenue, which would serve as a forum for the ideas of young avantgardists. There he presented not only modern photographs (for example by Strand) but also historical photos (for example by Cameron) and paintings (for example by Braque, Picasso, and O' Keeffe).
Around 1915, Alfred Stieglitz turned away from pictorialism strictly and became a vehement representative of a new movement: "straight photography". Together with Strand, he called for a photographic art that was no longer ashamed of the specific idiosyncrasies of the medium, but rather utilized them purposefully, for "the blurriness of a gum bichromate print has, seen from an aesthetic standpoint, less value than a normal tin plate photograph".
In 1917 he ended his activities as a gallery owner and publisher, and devoted himself specifically to his own artistic work. In 1924 he married the painter Georgia O’Keeffe; Stieglitz’s intense portraits of her are counted among the most famous of his photographs. A further high point of his work was the series "Equivalents," which show cloud formations as carriers of meaning for psychological moods.
Alfred Stieglitz died on July 13, 1946 in New York. He once said that, in order to establish photography as an art in America, he had "done everything, except commit suicide".