Beauty exposed

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The Independent Culture
The "Steerage" (right) is probably one of the most famous photographs ever taken. The author is the American photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, the date, 1907. It's the perfect example of Stieglitz's work - demonstrating an expert fusion of light, shade and form to convey a sense of inner feeling. Stieglitz was one of the first to suggest that photography could be more than a mere tool to document reality and set out to show that it could be used as a highly effective visual language. The "Steerage" is one of 16 original photogravures on show at Hamiltons Gallery this month. Priced from around £700-£3,500, they are taken from "Camera Work", the quarterly publication which Stieglitz edited in New York from 1903 to 1917, while running the Photo-Secession gallery "291". Stieglitz's art, which bridged the transition from the Victorian to the modern world, was described by Theodore Dreiser in 1899 as an expression of "the sentiment and tender beauty in subjects previously thought devoid of charm". While Stieglitz went on to produce a series of strikingly beautiful portraits of his wife - the artist Georgia O'Keefe - included here, from "Camera Work", are "The Hand of Man" (a steam train), "The Terminal", "The Aeroplane" and "A Dirigible" - all apparently charmless themes transformed into exquisite studies in light, shade and form.

A real treat.

Alfred Stieglitz: Photogravures at Hamiltons Gallery, 13 Carlos Place, London W1 (071-499 9493) 6-31 Mar

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