ALFRED STIEGLITZ | 'SPIRITUAL AMERICA'
1864 - 1946
flush-mounted, mounted again to larger card, annotated Top in Stieglitz's hand in pencil on the reverse; in the original white metal frame, with a The Intimate Gallery label, signed Alfred Stieglitz, titled Spiritual America, and annotated FOR Société Anonyme Exhibition. Brooklyn Museum. / 90 / Price [ ] / !! Will be called for after close of Exhibition by Geo. F. Of N. Y. in ink, on the reverse
gelatin silver print
4 ⅝ by 3 ⅝ inches
(11.7 by 9.2 cm)
Executed in 1923.
As is typical of Stieglitz's photographs from this period, the present print is trimmed to the image, flush-mounted to card and mounted again to a larger sheet of similar board or card. This gelatin silver print is in generally excellent condition. When examined closely in raking light, tiny deposits of original retouching are visible, most noticeably at the tips of the corners.
The larger, secondary mount is ever-so-faintly yellowed at the periphery of the photograph. There is some minor soiling on the reverse. 'Top' and '4 [circled]' are written in pencil on the reverse.
The original white metal frame, with its metal tabs, wooden spacers, and hanging hardware, is in generally very good condition. There are a few very small nicks to the frame and losses to the paint. There are some losses, tears, and abrasions to the The Intimate Gallery label. In addition to the signature, '(Stieglitz /' is written in ink in the photographer's hand, and '155-C' is written in pencil in an unidentified hand on the The Intimate Gallery label. 'Top' and '4 [circled]' are written in pencil on the reverse of the frame.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Abiquiu, New Mexico, 1946 (by descent)
By descent to the present owner
Sarah Greenough, Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs, vol. II 1923-1937, Washington, D. C., 2002, no. 889, p. 528, illustrated
Waldo Frank, Lewis Mumford, Dorothy Norman, Paul Rosenfeld, and Harold Rugg, eds., America & Alfred Stieglitz: A Collective Portrait, New York, 1934, pl. XXXI.C, illustrated
Doris Bry, Alfred Stieglitz, Photographer, Boston, Massachusetts, 1965, pl. 44, illustrated
Dorothy Norman, Alfred Stieglitz: An American Seer, New York, 1973 (reprinting of the 1960 edition), pl. LV, p. 185, illustrated
Sarah Greenough and Juan Hamilton, Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs & Writings, Washington, D. C., 1983, p. 54, illustrated
Dorothy Norman, Alfred Stieglitz: An American Seer, New York, 1990 (reprinting of the 1960 edition), p. 124, illustrated
Marion M. Goethals, Georgia O’Keeffe: Natural Issues, 1918-1924, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1992, p. 22, illustrated
Alexandra Arrowsmith and Thomas West, eds., Two Lives: A Conversation in Paintings and Photographs, New York, 1992, p. 100, illustrated
Weston Naef, In Focus: Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, 1995, pl. 31, pp. 66-67, illustrated
John Szarkowski, Alfred Stieglitz at Lake George, New York, 1995, p. 68, illustrated
Therese Mulligan, ed., The Photography of Alfred Stieglitz: Georgia O'Keeffe's Enduring Legacy, Rochester, New York, 2000, fig. 4, cat. 129, p. 21, illustrated
Sarah Greenough et al., Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries, Washington, D. C., 2000, pl. 97, p. 296, illustrated
New York, Brooklyn Museum, An International Exhibition of Modern Art Assembled by the Société Anonyme, November 1926-January 1927, no. 284
The photograph offered here, in its original frame with a The Intimate Gallery label, was one of seven photographs by Stieglitz included in the 1926 ‘International Exhibition of Modern Art Assembled by the Société Anonyme’ at the Brooklyn Museum. The Société Anonyme was founded in 1920 by Katherine S. Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray with the educational mission to provide the public with the opportunity to study the most recent movements in art. Their 1926 exhibition included works by artists from 22 different countries, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Constantin Brancusi, John Marin, and Francis Picabia, among others. This exhibition was the largest of its kind since the 1913 Armory show, and the first survey of international postwar art, preceding the opening of The Museum of Modern Art in 1929.
The period between 1918 and 1929 was one of intense creativity for Alfred Stieglitz, inspired in no small part by his flourishing relationship with O’Keeffe and his admiration for her commitment to her craft. The two spent much time at the Stieglitz family home at Lake George, where he produced extended photo studies of clouds, buildings, and the female form. It was there that he made this close-up image of a 37-year-old gelded horse that had belonged to his father. Stieglitz’s 291 gallery had closed in 1917, as had production of his proto-Dada ‘291’ magazine (see Lot 12), but he continued to explore the European Dada spirit, giving his photographs witty titles imbuing them with sharp social commentary. Spiritual America is a not-so-subtle expression of Stieglitz’s view of the United States as repressed, culturally bankrupt, and devoid of spirit. Castrated, restrained, and stripped of its power, the stallion is no longer animal, now reduced to a cluster of geometric forms.
At the time of this writing, no other print of this image is believed to have been offered at auction.