Equivalent [251 A], 1929
waxed gelatin silver print, flush-mounted on board, mounted on card
signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'For Dorothy Brett/ March 27, 1930' in pencil (mount, verso)
image/sheet/flush mount: 4 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. (12 x 9.5 cm.)
mount: 13 3/4 x 10 7/8 in. (34.9 x 27.5 cm.)
Acquired by the present owner before 1988.
Sarah Greenough, Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, Volume Two 1923-1937, Abrams/National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2002, p. 746, no. 1301.
Ithaca, New York, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, An American Portrait: Photographs from the Collection of Diann and Thomas Mann, April 1–June 12, 1994, no. 58.

Lot Essay

I wanted to photograph clouds to find out what I learned in forty years about photography. Through clouds to put down my philosophy of life. —Alfred Stieglitz

The collective title of the series work from which this lot (and Lot 46) belong, ‘Equivalents’, suggests the artist’s intention that they should be read not as quasi-scientific documents of the phenomena of cloud formations, but as sources of inspiration to take the viewer beyond the literal to the lyrical, poetic, and inspirational potential of these intangible, evanescent subjects. It was the development of panchromatic film that enabled Stieglitz to capture the necessary tonal range and contrasts to match the images in his mind’s eye. His first successes in 1923 were for him a visual equivalent of music, as suggested by the initial series titles, ‘Clouds in Ten Movements’ and ‘Songs of the Sky’, before he settled on ‘Equivalents’ for the cloud study experiments that he pursued till 1934.

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