“The whole development of photography has been given to the world through Camera Work...” -Paul Strand
THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE FIRST ISSUE IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS OF THE LEGENDARY PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNAL CAMERA WORK, SIGNED BY STIEGLITZ. COMPLETE WITH STIEGLITZ’S ICONIC PHOTOGRAPH “THE HAND OF MAN”.
SIGNED IN FULL BY STIEGLITZ ON THE TISSUE GUARD PRECEDING “THE HAND OF MAN”.
"Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) is perhaps the most important figure in the history of visual arts in America. That is certainly not to say that he was the greatest artist America has ever produced. Rather, through his many roles – as a photographer, as a discoverer and promoter of photographers and of artists in other media, and as a publisher, patron, and collector – he had a greater impact on American art than any other person has had" (Whelan, Stieglitz on Photography).
Nowhere, perhaps, was Stieglitz’s influence greater than in the pages of Camera Work, “by far the most beautiful of photographic magazines” (Whelan, Alfred Stigelitz: A Biography). Stieglitz aimed to convince the public that photography was a high “art” (rather than the simple result of a mechanical process) and to do that he understood he needed to present photographic work in the most beautiful way possible. In his introduction to this inaugural issue Stieglitz underscores his mission:
"Photography being in the main a process in monochrome, it is one subtle gradations of tone and value that its artistic beauty so frequently depends. It is therefore highly necessary that reproductions of photographic work must be made with exceptional care, and discretion of the spirit of the original is to be retained... Such supervision will be given to the illustrations that will appear in each number of Camera Work. Only examples of such works as gives evidence of individuality and artistic worth, regardless of school, or contains some exceptional feature of technical merit, or such as exemplifies some treatment worthy of consideration, will find recognition in these pages...”
“The first number, prepared during 1902, carried the publication date: January, 1903. Steichen’s handsome front cover and his Eastman Kodak advertisement on the back, like the typography and format devised by Stieglitz, were distinguished, uncluttered, and modern in spirit... The Japanese tissue he used for the magnificent photogravures that graced the pages of Camera Work intensified both his sense of touch when making his own photographs and his awareness of print quality in general. The reproductions often surpassed the originals in richness of tonality. Stieglitz tipped in the photogravures himself, touching up gouges or minor dust spots so that each copy would be perfect before it was sent out by registered mail.
“Camera Work helped set a new standard for bookmaking and photographic reproductions in the United States. Often termed the most beautiful magazine of the period, it gave credit not only to authors and editors but also to the printers of text and plates” (Dorothy Norman, Alfred Stieglitz: An American Seer).
The first issue contains plates of six photographs by Gertrude Käsebier and one by Stieglitz (“The Hand of Man”). Käsebier was one of the most highly-regarded and accomplished photographers of the turn of the century -- Stieglitz in 1899 called her “beyond dispute the leading portrait photographer in this country” -- and an intimate in Stieglitz’s circle (Whelan, Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography).
Stieglitz’s photograph, “The Hand of Man”, is one of his most famous works:
“Stieglitz’s ambitions as an artist and organizer are remarkably well symbolized in this picture. It was shown in 1902 at the National Arts Club in New York in an exhibition that coincided with Stieglitz’s founding of the Photo-Secession and was published in January 1903 in the inaugural issue of the movement’s journal, Camera Work. Stieglitz took every opportunity to place contradiction and duality at the center of his art and life, and this picture exemplifies his urge to reconcile opposites. The title establishes a poeticizing context that recalls the symbolism prevalent in art and literature of the time, yet it also alludes to photographs as the product of a machine and to the eternal dialogue between the handmade and the mechanical. Stieglitz believed that machines could be very beautiful objects and that a machine - the camera - could be a tool for the creation of art when guided by an artist” (Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum).
The issue also includes a photogravure by A. Radclyffe Dugmore, a reproduction of paintings by D.W. Tryon and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and texts by Stieglitz, Charles Caffin, Dallett Fuguet, J. B. Kerfoot, Sidney Allan (Sadakichi Hartmann), Edward Steichen, Joseph Keiley, and others.
New York: Alfred Stieglitz, 1903. Issue 1 (complete). Quarto (216x302mm), original wrappers; custom box by book artist Sjoerd Hofstra. A few spots of foxing to mount of “Hand of Man”; offsetting from Käsebier’s “The Red Man” on text of Stieglitz’s “Apology”; otherwise plates and text nearly pristine. Wrappers with chips to spine ends and separation at upper joint; small closed tear at top of front cover. In remarkably well-preserved condition.
A MAJOR LANDMARK IN THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY. RARE.
Price: $38,000 .