UPPER EAST SIDE — They knew how to strike a pose - and Steichen caught them doing it.
A series of celebrity photographs shot for Vogue and Vanity Fair of the 1920s and '30s are among highlights of a new show at the Whitney Museum of American Art dedicated to photographer, painter, designer and curator Edward Steichen (1879-1973).
Born in Luxembourg, raised in Michigan and Wisconsin, Steichen studied and exhibited in Paris and New York, working in painting and photography. He commanded the photographic division of the US Army Expeditionary Forces Air Services from 1917 to 1919 and experimented with photographic technology before moving to Condé Nast Publications a few years after the end of the war.
As chief of photography, he captured images of some of his most famous contemporaries - figures as diverse as Winston Churchill, Eugene O'Neill, Marlene Dietrich and Paul Robeson — and shot striking images for advertising campaigns.
The exhibition at the Whitney, composed of approximately 45 images, includes celebrity portraits and advertising materials as well as a set of nature photographs. Displayed alongside each other, the Whitney says, this collection of works "demonstrate[s] Steichen's vision of photography as both an aesthetic form and a vehicle for mass communication."
"Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition" opens Dec. 6 and runs through Feb. 23, 2014. Access to the exhibition is included with general admission to the Whitney Museum.