Heinrich Kühn, originally Carl Christian Heinrich Kühn was born on February 25th, 1866 in Dresden, Germany. Kühn was one of the central figures of international art photography at the beginning of the twentieth century. His lifelong goal was to establish the photographic image as a medium for rendering an artistic vision as precisely and creatively as in painting and drawing.
Along with Alfred Stieglitz and other friends, Kühn made the stylized photographic an element of the gesamtkunstwerk, which translates to "ideal work of art", which the Secessionists aspired to create. The most important tool for this was the gum bichromate process that he had perfected, as well as the free choice of paper and pigment, which made the picture look more like a print than a conventional photograph. This allowed him to deliberately alter the brightness contrasts to fit his notion of the image and dissolve its sharpness. Too much sharpness was considered "non-artistic" because it veered way from painting, thus eliminating it where he saw fit. Kühn reduced the romantic cosmos of "Pictorialism" to the point of abstraction, thus exhibiting a sense of timelessness and balance.
Kühn's work is represented in many collections, including Eastman House Rochester (New York), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Kupferstich-Kabinett (Dresden), Hanmburgische Lichtbildstelle (Hamburg), Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), and Musée d'Orsay (Paris).
Heinrich Kühn died on September 14th, 1944.