Imogen Cunningham – Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum is currently presenting “Everything Under the Sun: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham” one of America’s original, talented female photographers, who forged ahead to open this new art form to women.

“Everything Under the Sun” features sixty photographs spanning the artist’s career from 1915 to 1973. The exhibit goes from July 2009 until August 29, 2010 and it is drawn entirely from the Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Imogen Cunningham (1883–1976) dedicated her life to her art, becoming one of the world’s most well-known photographers from the Northwest.

She was born in Portland, Oregon and began her career as a photographer in Seattle, after finishing a chemistry degree at the University of Washington, in 1907. Cunningham worked at a time when there were very few female photographers. She purchased her first camera as a teenager, and pursued her interest in the medium throughout college. Her undergraduate thesis focused on “Modern Processes of Photography.”

From 1907-09, she worked in the Seattle portrait studio of famed photographer Edward Curtis, and a year later opened her own portrait studio on First Hill in Seattle. She kept that studio from 1910-1917.

It may seem hard to contemplate now, but as a professional photographer, she encouraged other women to join the field and in 1913 even published an article “Photography as a Profession for Women.”

During this period, she photographed her husband, Roi Partridge on the lands of Mt. Rainier National Park, and in 1916 produced images which are among the first of a female photographer displaying work of nude male forms.

In 1920 she and her family moved to San Francisco, where she remained until her death. I was also living in San Francisco for the last 16 years of her life, so this was where my fascination for her work started. I especially love her flowers.

In San Francisco, her work began to also include studies of botanical and other natural subjects, and there she cofounded Group f/64, which sought a modernist aesthetic through photography of natural and found objects.

Curator by Marisa C. Sánchez, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at SAM, says the exhibition reveals Cunningham’s inquisitive eye – from portraits of Frida Kahlo, Alfred Stieglitz, and other well-known artists of her time, to views of a male nude and much more. The photographs on view demonstrate the breadth and range of Cunningham’s artistic vision.

Exhibition dates: 07/11/2009 through 08/29/2010
Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Avenue, Seattle
(206) 654-3100
Imogen Cunningham – Seattle Art Museum
Tuesday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm, Thursday-Friday 10:00am-9:00pm

Please also enjoy the 3-part series on Seattle’s current master photographer, Art Wolfe. See the archive below for links.

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