Pictorialism

Dayton Vista

The pictorialist movement began in the late 1890’s as a challenge to assertion that photography was only a record of the “real.” With a goal of finding the aesthetic language of photography, the movement claimed that a photograph need not be only an illustrated record, but rather could contain the vision of the artist/photographer.

As pictorialism began to dominate European art photography, artists in the United States adapted this new approach to the medium by using painterly techniques to create both silver and non-silver prints. The young Axel Bahnsen was influenced by pictorialism, which continued to dominate artists’ approach to photography throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s and gave rise to some of his most significant work. This, plus the continuation of photographic salons to establish venues for photographic art exhibitions, provided Bahnsen with early recognition and established his reputation in both the U.S. and Europe.

 

Nancy Howell-Koehler

photographer, teacher, author, independent curator.