A look at one of the first feminist artists, Pictorialist photographer Anne Brigman, best known for her iconic landscape photographs made in the early 1900s depicting female nudes outdoors in rugged northern California.
This main volume of a previously published slipcased edition is the catalogue of the major retrospective exhibition that took place in 2018 at the Nevada Museum of Art, and remains the first comprehensive book to chronicle the photography of Anne W. Brigman (1869-1950), one of the most important of all American women photographers. This monumental publication rediscovers and celebrates the work of Brigman, whose photography was considered radical for its time. For Brigman to objectify her own nude body as the subject of her photographs in the turn of the 20th century was groundbreaking; to do so outdoors in a near-desolate wilderness setting was revolutionary. Brigman's significance spanned both coasts: in northern California, where she lived, she was known as a poet, a critic, and a member of the Pictorialist photography movement, whose practitioners employed various methods of manipulation to achieve images that were considered beautiful and romantic. On the east coast, her work was promoted by Alfred Stieglitz, who published her photographs in Camera Work and elected her as a Fellow of the prestigious Photo-Secession.
The beautifully produced large-format book is devoted to Brigman's entire career, covering such topics as Brigman's work within the contexts of the California Arts & Crafts movement and New York Modernism; her relationship to High Sierra mountaineering and early 20th-century poetry; and the relevance of her work to contemporary conversations regarding gendered landscapes of the American frontier.
The life and work of an essential photographer whose feminism and pictorialist images distanced her from the mainstream
In the first book devoted to Anne Brigman (1869-1950), Kathleen Pyne traces the groundbreaking photographer's life from Hawai'i to the Sierra and elsewhere in California, revealing how her photographs emerged from her experience of local place and cultural politics. Brigman's work caught the eye of the well-known photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who welcomed her as one of the original members of his Photo-Secession group. He promoted her work as exemplary of his modernism and praised her Sierra landscapes with female nudes-work that at the time separated Brigman from the spiritualized upper-class femininity of other women photographers. Stieglitz later drew on Brigman's images of the expressive female body in shaping the public persona of Georgia O'Keeffe into his ideal woman artist. This nuanced account reasserts Brigman's place among photography's most important early advocates and provides new insight into the gender and racialist dynamics of the early twentieth-century art world, especially on the West Coast of the United States.