Imogen Cunningham, Martha Graham
04 Photograph, The Art Of The Nude, Martha Graham, with footnotes # 10
Martha Graham, c. 1931
Gelatin silver print
“I wanted to begin not with characters or ideas, but with movements . . .I wanted significant movement. I did not want it to be beautiful or fluid. I wanted it to be fraught with inner meaning, with excitement and surge.”
Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 — April 1, 1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer. Her style, the Graham technique, reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide.
She danced and taught for over seventy years. Graham was the first dancer to perform at the White House, travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the US: the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. She said, in the 1994 documentary The Dancer Revealed, “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.” More on Martha Graham
Gelatin silver print
Imogen Cunningham (April 12, 1883 — June 23, 1976) was an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.
It was not until 1906, while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, that she was inspired to take up photography again by an encounter with the work of Gertrude Käsebier. With the help of her chemistry professor, Horace Byers, she began to study the chemistry behind photography and she subsidized her tuition by photographing plants for the botany department.
Martha Graham #35 ,1931
In 1907 Cunningham went to work for Edward S. Curtis in his Seattle studio, gaining knowledge about the portrait business and practical photography. She worked on his project of documenting American Indian tribes for the book The North American Indian
In 1909, Cunningham was awarded the Pi Beta Phi Graduate Fellowship. Using this fellowship, Cunningham traveled to Germany to study with Professor Robert Luther at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden, Germany. In May 1910, she finished her paper describing her process to increase printing speed, improve clarity of highlights tones, and produce sepia tones.
In Seattle, Cunningham opened a studio and won acclaim for portraiture and pictorial work. She became a sought-after photographer and exhibited at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in 1913. In 1914, Cunningham’s portraits were shown at An International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in New York. Wilson’s Photographic Magazine published a portfolio of her work.
In the 1940s, Cunningham turned to documentary street photography. In 1945, Cunningham was invited by Ansel Adams to accept a position as a faculty member for the art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts.
Cunningham continued to take photographs until shortly before her death at age 93, on June 23, 1976, in San Francisco, California.
Cunningham was named Imogen after the heroine of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. More on Imogen Cunningham
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