Biography of Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976)

American photographer, born in 1883 and died in 1976.


With twenty-three years, this young photographer and chemistry student, approached the world of photography from the hand of Edward S. Curtis as a laboratory assistant, and later trained in the printing of copies to the Platinum made by Curtis in the reserves of the Indians of the West Coast. Pioneer of Pictorialism, soon became part of the ranks of vanguard of the Group F.64, which was perhaps the best follower of Edward Weston, alma and founder of that group that one day dogmatizara the needs of "pure photography": all photography that is not clearly focused for every detail, which is not printed on glossy black and white contactthat has not been mounted on a white surface, which denounce any manipulation or which evades reality in its theme, will be "impure".

Imogen Cunnigham was perhaps the most academic of the group in regards to the presentation of the "pure form". Limited during the Decade of the twenties to the role of wife and mother, she was forced to choose their referents in their domestic environment. Then I enjoyed photographing flowers and plants that she cared for inside and outside the home. Their flat detail of flowers are the most representative of his work. Representative between them is the entitled two coves, made before 1929. It is a decision of great beauty and elegance. The interplay of shapes of flowers is stylized while the lights without contrasts are a delicate and soft textures, which does not prevent that the viewer can sense the sweet fragrance of white on the shy grey and the brave black that blurs the towards the shallow represented. Not so, that another takes entitled drawing of vegetable leaf, made the same year to the dry bromide also. It triumphs the violent graphics and pure line which, like a scalpel, cut light on hard contrasts, in a composition where forms are quick in an aggressive cascade of sharp linear structures. The result are correct and at the time brave photographs marked graphic and dramatic contrasts between light and shadow even working technique of Platinum paper.

It deep knowing of the laboratory technique, until very old herself made the circulation of its copies. After his death in 1976, a copy made for herself was worth six hundred dollars, a simply signed four hundred, and the taken after his death one hundred fifty dollars and is that not in vain, was long considered "the venerable grandmother of American photography".