A potted history of art photography
There are so many photographers associated with the fine art movement that it would be impossible to profile all of them here. A quick run through some of the most important names in the medium’s history should provide a framework and stepping-off point for more in-depth research.
One of the earliest pioneers of fine art photography was Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), who worked in the latter half of the 19th century, producing portraits of the celebrities of the time as well as fantasy images that took inspiration from Arthurian legends and other epic themes.
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), who was married to the painter Georgia O’Keefe probably did more than anyone else to get photography recognised as an artform, while Man Ray (1890-1976) was one of the first to blur the boundaries between art and photography, using the medium’s unique traits in his Surrealist and Dadaist images.
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) established landscape photography as art with his epic black & white images of the American outdoors, while Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) made fine art of the mundane
with his insightful street photography. Moving to more contemporary times, Diane Arbus’ (1923-1971) art focused on images of people on the fringes of society, while Cindy Sherman (b.1954) used self-image and imagined film stills and in the process became recognised as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Meanwhile, photographs by Andreas Gursky (b.1955) command prices to rival any other fine art medium.
Left Julia Margaret Cameron’s ‘The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere’ is an early example of art photography.
Above from left Man Ray’s solarised prints were a part of the Surrealist movement, Cindy Sherman creates filmic art and Andreas Gursky prints sell for millions of dollars.