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'Whatever is, is not,' is the maxim of the anarchist, as often as anything comes across him in the shape of a law which he happens not to like.

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May 17, 2021

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Quote Author: Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879 - March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator, born in Bivange, Luxembourg. His family moved to the United States in 1881 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1900.

Having established himself as a fine art painter in the beginning of the 20th century, Steichen assumed the pictorialist approach in photography and proved himself a master of it. In 1905, Steichen helped create the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession with Alfred Stieglitz. After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into fashion photography. Steichen's 1938 photo of actress Greta Garbo -- below, featured on the Life cover of 10 January 1955 -- is recognized as one of the definitive portraits of Garbo.

During World War II, he served as Director of the Naval Photographic Institute. His war documentary The Fighting Lady won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary. After the war, Steichen served until 1962 as the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man in 1955, a vast exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries. Steichen's brother-in-law, Carl Sandburg, wrote the introduction for the exhibition catalog (ISBN 0-8109-6169-5). As had been Steichen's wish, the exhibition was donated to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is now permanently housed in the Luxembourg town of Clervaux.

A show of early color photographs by Steichen was held at Mudam Luxembourg from July 14 to September 3, 2007.

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