Photo by Imogen

Photo by Imogen

Creativity! Isn’t that what art is? Art comes in millions of variables. Art is everywhere, in nature, in architecture, in human creativity–in a leaf.

Last week, I visited a renowned photography gallery, Gallery270, Englewood, NJ, to view some prints by Imogen Cunningham. The gallery is owned by Tom Gramegna, who also owns Bergen County Camera, Westwood, NJ. His photography exhibitions will enrich you, and perhaps inspire you to make art, collect art, especially photo art.

Photo by Imogen

Photo by Imogen

Imogen Cunningham’s early to mid 20th century photo art is pure, no digital technology to enhance her work. All the enhancements, finishes and spatial concepts were done by her, no tricks. Pure creativity. She knew how to use her medium.

She understood the components of creativity. She knew how to divide space. She knew what would translate into beauty, what we hope for in art. Below is the brief story about this intriguing, creative woman, who, in spite of women barely being recognized professionals in her lifetime, forged ahead in her craft.

Photo by Imogene, Martha Graham (dancer)

Photo by Imogene, Martha Graham (dancer)

Imogen Cunningham (April 12, 1883 – June 23, 1976) was an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.

In 1901, at the age of eighteen, Cunningham bought her first camera, a 4×5 inch view camera, via mail order from the American School of Art in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She soon lost interest and sold the camera to a friend.th-2

It wasn’t until 1906, while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, that she was inspired to take up photography again by an encounter with the work of Gertrude Käsebier. With the help of her chemistry professor, Horace Byers, she began to study the chemistry behind photography and she subsidized her tuition by photographing plants for the botany department.

th-5Cunningham was said to take after her father: “a self-taught freethinker who didn’t confine himself to one profession,” which led Cunningham to experiment freely with cameras, photographic printing techniques and styles.

In 1907, Cunningham graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in chemistry. Her thesis was titled “Modern Processes of Photography.” She focused on a career in photography, and won a fellowship for foreign study.

Imogen

Imogen

In 1915, Cunningham married etching artist, printmaker and teacher Roi Partridge. They had three sons. The couple divorced in 1934. A granddaughter, Meg Partridge, has cataloged Cunningham’s work.

As of 1940, Cunningham lived in Oakland, California, though she had studios in various locations in San Francisco. Cunningham continued to take photographs until shortly before her death at age 93 on June 23, 1976, in San Francisco, California.

Imogen

Imogen

What form of art/creativity is your preference?  Architecture, body art, car art, crochet, dance, Disney art, fashion, floral design, embroidery, furniture, graphic design, hair art, jazz, jewelry, knitting, music, nail art, oil painting, pastels, photography, piano,  rap, sculpture, sports movements, voice, writing, watercolor painting? Did I miss your favorite? Fill it in . . .

There’s a new show going up at Gallery270 at 10 North Dean St. Englewood, NJ, tomorrow, April 2nd, 7-9 pm. 201-871-4113. Another brilliant photographer, young and with it! Michael Massaia. See you there?

 

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