Rain Drops by Alfred Stieglitz
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240)
Mid-storm artmaking may not be the most radical idea out there, but today’s new release goes far beyond the expected. This Vintage Edition is from one of the foremost figures in modern American photography: Alfred Stieglitz. Who knew there was so much to be discovered in precipitation on print?
Stieglitz made Rain Drops in 1927 in Lake George—the upstate New York location of his summer home. It was not the first time he found inspiration in those natural surroundings, and it wouldn’t be the last. Describing his fondness for the Adirondack Mountain area, he said “Lake George is in my blood, the trees and lake and hills and sky”.
Rain Drops comes from Equivalents, a series Stieglitz started around 1923. He began the series partly in reaction to an unsavory critique of his art in which Waldo Frank suggested that Stieglitz’s work derived its power from the individuals he photographed, rather than his own artistic talent. Offended by the intimation, Stieglitz launched a study of subject matter he would intentionally leave open to interpretation—widely regarded as some of the earliest abstract fine-art photography.
Clouds proved the perfect focal point: something everyone could see but no one could manipulate directly, notoriously tricky to capture on film. This gave Stieglitz the opportunity to flex his skill set, proving his technical and aesthetic prowess by producing stunning, abstract images as-yet unprecedented. Freed from literality, the photographs’ visual poetry far outweighed the subject matter in import.
Clouds weren’t the only thing Stieglitz shot in Equivalents. Today’s edition, for instance, focuses on the patterns of shape and light created by long stalks of grass covered in water droplets. Because there is no other object in the frame to provide context or reference, the image pushes toward total abstraction. Its abstraction is grounded in the organic and natural.
Beyond a grudge match, endeavoring to explore abstract image-making was also a wise move for a man who made it his life’s mission to cement photography as an artistic medium. Then barely a century old, photography had advanced considerably on the technological side, but it had undergone few artistic evolutions. The art world struggled to see photography as an artistic medium in its own right. Stieglitz sought to break the conventional boundaries of photography, in both technique and aesthetic. Rain Drops is an excellent example of that industrious effort.
With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200