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The Logan Collection Highlights & Shadows: Books on Photography from the Reva and David Logan Collection

Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work

Alfred Stieglitz and Camera Work

Alfred Stieglitz’s seminal photography journal, Camera Work, is central to the history of photography as a whole and to the Logan Collection in particular. It was founded, edited and published by Alfred Stieglitz from 1903–1917, and includes 50 issues with three special supplements. Logan’s passion to own a complete set of Camera Work drove his early collecting; when he finally obtained it, he was so grateful that he promptly purchased “a few thousand dollars” worth of photography books from the bookstore owner, forming the genesis of the Logan Collection. Camera Work is notable for its insistence that photography be viewed as an art form equal to painting. Stieglitz supervised nearly every aspect of the magazine, from the design of the ads (segregated at the end of each issue), the selection of critical writings contained within, and the supervision of the photogravures. Photogravures are not true photographs as they are mechanically printed, but their quality is so extraordinary that they stand alone as art objects in their own right. Camera Work presented the work of different photographers in each issue, including occasionally Stieglitz himself. Its early numbers embraced the soft-focused, heavily manipulated, romantic Pictorialist style, while the final post-WWI issues presented the glimmerings of Modernism in Paul Strand’s harder-edged, urban, quasi-abstract images. Camera Work would cast a long shadow over the 20th century, as successive generations of photographers took seriously Stieglitz’s belief in the power of photography to evoke a “deeper meaning” of thought and expression.

The Logan Collection features two outstanding, full sets of Camera Work, with all issues intact. Each very fine set includes all the original photogravures, as well as all text and original advertisements. The Logans were also interested in other items relating to Camera Work, such as a full run of the Stieglitz-edited Camera Notes (1897-1903) that predated Camera Work, and materials relating to the Photo-Secession movement, including  some very rare pamphlets regarding Photo-Secessionism and its Opponents. The Collection is also very strong in those photographers who worked closely with Stieglitz, with scores of titles by Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and others.