Born in Portland, Oregon in 1883, Imogen Cunningham became one of the major photographers of the last century. Imogen studied chemistry at the University of Washington, where she wrote a 1907 thesis on the chemical process of photography. One of her first photographs was a 1906 nude self-portrait, taken on an isolated spot on the UW campus with a 4" x 5" mail-order camera.

After graduation, Imogen worked for Seattle photographer Edward Curtis, who documented the American Indian culture. She established her own studio in 1910, becoming one of the very first professional woman photographers. She encouraged other women to join her, publishing an article in 1913 titled Photography as a Profession for Women.

In 1917, Imogen moved to San Francisco with her husband, artist Roi Partridge. There, she met Edward Westin and other photographers and artists. In 1932, Imogen, Ansel Adams, Edward Westin, and others, founded Group f/64, which promoted photography and helped to establish photography as an art form. After several of her photographs of dancer Martha Graham were published by Vanity Fair in the early 30s, the magazine employed her to photograph many celebrities and political figures of the time.

Imogen became widely known for her portraits, flower images, and nudes. She worked as a photographer until her death at the age of ninety-three in 1976.

We have four Imogen Cunningham photographs on the 6th floor of the Allen Center. These are gelatin silver "Estate Prints," printed by her son Ron after her death. The prints include Portrait of the Artist Frida Kahlo (1931), a flower still-life False Hellebore (1926), and Dance 3 (1926), a photograph of three dance students at Cornish School on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Our most recent addition is the 1933 Self-portrait with Korona View Camera.

Photographs © The Imogen Cunningham Trust.


Links

The Imogen Cunningham Trust

George Eastman House

Lumiere Gallery, Atlanta

Imogen Prints at Photo Liason


Books

Imogen Cunningham, by Manfred Heiting (Editor) and Richard Lorenz. Taschen America, 2001.

Imogen Cunningham: Portraiture, by Richard Lorenz. Little, Brown, and Company/Bullfinch Press, 1997.

Imogen Cunningham: Flora, by Richard Lorenz. Little, Brown, and Company/Bullfinch Press, 2001.

Imogen Cunningham: On the Body, by Richard Lorenz. Little, Brown, and Company/Bullfinch Press, 2001.


Video

Portrait of Imogen, by Meg Partridge, nominated for best short documentary, 1988 Academy Awards.


Art in the Allen Center