Edward Jean Steichen (1879 - 1973)

Birth date: 1879 Death date: 1973  
Birth location: Death location:  
Media: Graphic Art , Painting , Photography Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.

Biographical Brief

Known as Eduard Jean before WWII.
Steichen was influenced early in his career by the artistic environment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin
2004 recipient of the WI Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Related Websites:
Gerhard Richter, contemporary panorama painter, recently cited the importance of Edward Steichen on his work. This is a video  interview with Nicholas Serotta in which he discusses Steichen.



Edward Steichen
1879 in Luxembourg
Died 1973 in New York, New York
Edward Steichen arrived in the United States as a child in 1881.  He spent his youth in Milwaukee, where at age 15 he was apprenticed to one of Milwaukee’s many lithographic shops.  At age 16, Steichen began his exploration of photography.  Although this interest in photography was to dominate his artistic career, his early interest in other media is exemplified in his early watercolors of Wisconsin Dells which he completed when he was 19 years old.  Because of the geographical link to the Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin’s early photographer of the Wisconsin Dells, Harry Hamilton Bennett, may have influenced Steichen’s interest in photography.  Very few of his paintings remain because of an episode in 1922 when he burned whatever paintings he had and dedicated himself exclusively to photography.

In 1898, Steichen organized and became the first president of the Milwaukee Art Students’ League. By 1900 the young 20-year-old left Wisconsin for good and went to Paris to study painting.  His stay there was short and by 1902 he was in New York where he was one of the co-founders of the New York Photo-Secession group.  During World War I, Steichen was an aerial photographer and during the twenties and thirties, he did fashion photography for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines.  In 1947, he became Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Steichen’s sense for creativity in capturing an essence of the scene allowed him to achieve international fame.

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1905  Eugene Glaenzer & Co. Galleries, New York, New York 
1938 Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland 
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
University Art Museum, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Selected Group Exhibitions

1905 Photo-Secession Gallery, New York, New York,  The Younger American Painters (also1908, 1909, 1910)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York., Murals by American Painters and Photographers 
1955 Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York., Family of Man
Milwaukee art Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Bennett, Steichen and Metzker: The Wisconsin Heritage in Photography 
1988 Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 100 Years of Wisconsin Art 


Edward Steichen.  New York: Aperture Inc. Publishers, 1978

Homer, William Innes. Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1983

Steichen, Edward. A Life in Photography. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1963

Milwaukee Art  Museum, 100 Years of Wisconsin Art. Wisconsin, c.1988 

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