National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries


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Introduction | 291 Gallery | Anderson Galleries and Intimate Gallery | An American Place

An American Place

Demuth, My Egypt In the fall of 1929 Stieglitz opened An American Place on the seventeenth floor of a building at 509 Madison Avenue in New York. Continuing the tradition established at the Intimate Gallery, each year until his death in 1946 Stieglitz presented monographic shows, almost always of his three "core" artists--Dove, Marin, and O'Keeffe--interspersed with exhibitions of works by Demuth, Hartley, Strand, and occasional shows of his own photographs. Yet with the onset of the Depression, and the political and economic upheaval it created, the strong sense of community that had characterized the years of the Anderson Galleries and the Intimate Gallery dissipated and An American Place began to feel less like a communal meeting place than a sanctuary. As each of these artists turned inward, they created their most mature art. All of them refined their techniques and purified their compositions, looking for strong simple iconic forms as in Demuth's My Egypt and Dove's That Red One. With their direct, frontal presentations of monolithic structures, bathed in a crystalline light, their work acquired spiritual overtones. Their purpose was not just to present an American vista but to suggest something more universal: Demuth's Egypt was the industrial landscape of his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, whereas for Dove the essence of life was found in the humble structures of Long Island Sound; O'Keeffe, Strand, Marin, Hartley, and Stieglitz found the universal in the desert of the Southwest, the rugged coast of Maine, or the skyscrapers of New York.

To a great extent, Stieglitz was responsible for this flowering of American art. For more than thirty years he had orchestrated one of the most influential dialogues ever created in American art and culture. All "Seven Americans" drew profound support from the community that he had fostered and deep inspiration from his own art. The vision of a photographer had liberated, enlightened, nurtured, and perhaps ultimately defined their world.

Brochure written by Sarah Greenough, curator of photographs, National Gallery of Art.

Introduction | 291 Gallery | Anderson Galleries and Intimate Gallery | An American Place