Throughout her long life, Imogen Cunningham was tireless and exemplary in her pursuit of new developments in photography and in the expansion of her own practice. An inspiration to several successive generations, she reinvented the genres of botanical photography, street photography, nudes and portraiture, and expanded the possibilities of the double exposure. This publication celebrates the rich diversity of this modernist pioneer, covering Cunningham’s entire seven-decade career--from her abstract shots of plants and nudes and optical illusions created using techniques such as inverted positive/negative images and double exposure, to her iconic portraits for Vanity Fair of artists, dancers, actors, musicians and writers such as Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Martha Graham, Frida Kahlo, Gertrude Stein, Morris Graves and Merce Cunningham. The selection also includes many rarely reproduced works, plus essays by Celina Lunsford, curator of the exhibition, Jamie M. Allen and Marisa C. Sánchez, an illustrated chronology and selected bibliography.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Imogen Cunningham (1883–1976) chose at an early age to become a photographer and a working woman outside the home--choices that were profoundly bold for a woman of her generation. Around 1905-06, she purchased a 4 x 5 inch camera. After completing studies at the University of Washington, and the Technische Hochschule in Germany, she married, living first in Seattle and later in San Francisco, where--with Ansel Adams, John Paul Edwards, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, Willard Van Dyke and Edward Weston--she cofounded Group f/64, which practiced the conceptual constraint of unmanipulated photography. In 1945, Adams Cunningham joined the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts. She continued to take photographs until shortly before her death at 93.
About Celina Lunsford
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Published January 1, 1995
by The Howard Greenberg Gallery.
Arts & Photography.