Imogen Cunningham

I always think of Imogen Cunningham as sort of the female version of Ansel Adams. She was an American photographer of the same era, who lived long and was a prolific photographer.

However where Adams’ subject was nature and the great outdoors Cunningham photographed everything, literally – everything. Cunningham produced dreamlike narrative images, portraits, still-lifes, nude abstractions, dancer studies, self-portraits and street photography. She worked in various black and white formats and she worked in color.

She created so many beautiful images it is difficult for me to choose which few I’ll share. The website photo liaison has a gallery of her published images. Check it out!

Cunningham was born in Oregon in 1883. She was named after one of Shakespeare's heroines. She began reading at an early age and took art lessons every summer. She attended the University of Washington, where she majored in chemistry. Her thesis was titled “Modern Processes of Photography.”

After graduation Cunningham worked for Edward S. Curtis, where she learned the techniques of platinum printing. She later received a scholarship to study photographic chemistry in Germany. Upon her return Cunningham opened a portrait studio in Seattle.

Cunningham married, and with her new family moved to California. She began participating in exhibitions at San Francisco institutions like the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, as well as the Berkeley Art Museum and she had a one-person exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum. Cunningham was also an original member of Group f.64

Cunningham divorced and was invited to New York to work for Vanity Fair but she soon returned to California. She spent time traveling with Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor. Eventually she opened a studio in San Francisco. She taught at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

Cunningham was a Fellow of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Collections of her work were purchased by The International Museum of Photography, at George Eastman House, The Library of Congress and The Smithsonian Institution.

While I was putting this post together I came across this great article on one of my favorite sites It’s a shot article that is fun and revealing, definitely worth the quick read.