Heinrich Kühn & Camera Work

Vintage Photography & Pictorialism

January 17 - April 4, 2015

In the front foyer of the gallery is a curated selection of rare vintage Pictorialist works from the Gallery’s holdings in early 20th Century photographs, including original gum bichromate and bromoil prints, along with vintage photogravures from Alfred Stieglitz’s seminal publication, Camera Work. Artists on view include Heinrich Kühn, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, George Seeley and Frank Eugene among others.


Heinrich Kühn (Austrian-German, 1866-1944) was one of the central figures of international art photography at the beginning of the twentieth century. His goal, along with Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, was to establish the photographic image as a medium for rendering an artistic vision as precisely and creatively as in painting and drawing. The most important tools for this were the gum bichromate and bromoil processes, which made the picture look more like a print than a conventional photograph. This allowed him to deliberately alter the tones and contrast to fit his notion of the image and dissolve its sharpness as too much sharpness was considered “non-artistic” because it veered away from painting. Kühn reduced the romantic cosmos of “Pictorialism” to the point where his compositions became almost abstract and exhibited a sense of timelessness.