Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stages of a Woman: Self-Portraits of Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham

1974

Imogen Cunningham

1932

1910

 

1908

“Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) is renowned as one of the greatest American women photographers. In 1901, having sent away $15 for her first camera, she commenced what would become the longest photographic career in the history of the medium.

Cunningham soon turned her attention to both the nude as well as native plant forms in her back garden. The results were staggering; an amazing body of work comprised of bold, contemporary forms. These works are characterized by a visual precision that is not scientific, but which presents the lines and textures of her subjects articulated by natural light and their own gestures. Her refreshing, yet formal and sensitive floral images from the 1920’s ultimately became her most acclaimed images.

Cunningham also had an intuitive command of portraiture but her real artistic legacy was secured though her inclusion in the "F64" show in San Francisco in 1932. With a small group of photographers which included Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, she pioneered the renewal of photography on the West Coast.  Awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, Cunningham’s work continues to be exhibited and collected around the world.”

Biographical notes from Photography West Gallery

19 comments:

Protege said...

One always learns so much form your blog; I am inspired by women that manage to pursue an art form and become recognized for it.
The oldest photograph of her is very beautiful.;)
Thank you for your always kind comments at my place.;) xo

Gal Friday said...

The contrast between the Imogen of 1932 with the prim lace collar and brooch and the 70's portraits where she is a bolder(older) version of herself, draped in scarves and chunky jewelery is stunning! And yet, the face has the same determined expression.
Now, I'll have to check out the link to the photo/bio....

Ingrid Mida said...

I love her work. Its beauty and haunting elegance has long been a source of inspiration to me.

Jane said...

An interesting post. I am thinking of taking a photography class and this has helped make up my mind.

littlebyrd said...

She looks just fabulous! I am excited to check out more of her work - thanks for the intro!!

Tessa said...

I love her work - she is one feisty lady! That second self-portrait is wonderful!

Angela said...

My grandmother was ten years younger and also wore such collars! But all she ever wanted (as I read in her diary) was to find a suitable husband. When she became a widow at 55, she was left with no ambition. What a waste! I wish someone had given her a camera. What moments of her life she could have kept!

The Clever Pup said...

Thanks, Sallymandy. I had heard her name but knew nothing of her.

The self-portraits make me feel mortal. I've got to go exfoliate!

Modest Mom said...

Each age seems to have both its own beauty and its own strength.

Stephanie N. said...

Sallymandy, you help keep my brain from turning to mush. I feel like I learn something new every time something from you pops up in my Google Reader.

Jennifer said...

I loved the beauty in her aging. She acquired strength and style, perhaps confidence. Thank you for sharing her. I investigated more about her after I read your post, and I otherwise would not have known.

Maria Killam said...

Fascinating to see the progression, it's a great idea for everyone to do!

lakeviewer said...

Lovely to see a woman age so gracefully and confindently.

Sher said...

The Unmade Bed....now I know who she is! I've seen her work and it's nice to put a face to artist.

Lola said...

It's always an educating trip here, SM. I'm off to look for images captured by Imogen. I love her style, her pose, her crystal clear gaze.

Thank you for reminding us, with your posts, of how exceptional we women can be.

Ciao artista

PS: great idea the translator tool! Brava

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amazing. She retained the same look out of her eyes for her entire life. Curious, and direct.

La Belette Rouge said...

I love the progression of her different stages of beauty. She is amazing.

PurestGreen said...

Oh, how I love these photos. Found your blog through lakeviewer - now happily following along!

sallymandy said...

Protege: Yes, I love the oldest photograph too. She's clearly still in her creative element, and has her own style. You're welcome, too. ♥

Gal: Right, that's what I liked, too. She almost seems more "in herself" as an older woman than a young one.

Ingrid: I'm glad you know her, too!

Jane: I hope you'll post some photographs for us, if you do take that class.

Littlebyrd and Tessa: I figured out that she was 49 in that photo, if I did my math right. I want to be that self-possessed in three years.

Angela: I'd like to know more about Imogen's bio and how she navigated those strong social pressures.

MM: Yes, I think you're right.

Stephanie: what a kind comment. It's a clever campaign to keep my own brain from turning to mush.

Jennifer: I'm glad you enjoyed getting to know her work. I don't know that much about her but have learned more recently in making this post. Have had a book of her photos since college, and that was about it.

Maria: Yes. I love that she didn't give up on her own personal style as an elderly woman.

Lakeviewer: My thoughts exactly.

Sher: I found the self portraits when I was searching for bed photos! You clever girl.

Lola: Exceptional women are so encouraging to me, even if they're dead. Translator tool: I think there might be better ones that what's on my blog at present, but I haven't researched much. Any suggestions welcome.

Pamela: Her eyes seemed not to have aged at all.

Belette: I think so too! I want to be like her when I grow up.

PurestGreen: Thanks for the visit!