Washington, DC—On April 25, 2019, the National Gallery of Art released the Alfred Stieglitz Key Set Online Edition, a digital version of an authoritative scholarly publication on the photographs and photographic practice of Alfred Stieglitz. Originally published as a two-volume print edition (Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set) in 2002, the digital version incorporates updated scholarship, including recent conservation findings, as well as robust search functionality and advanced image viewing and comparison tools. Under the guidance of Sarah Greenough, the Gallery's senior curator and head of the department of photographs, and Mark Levitch, Stieglitz online project coordinator, this most recent installment of the Online Editions series makes the 1,642 works from the Key Set—the foremost collection of Stieglitz's photographs—available to all and provides new opportunities for researching Stieglitz's oeuvre.
"Spanning the breadth of his career, the Key Set is the only comprehensive collection of Stieglitz's work in existence and is the cornerstone of the Gallery's collection of photographs," said Kaywin Feldman, director, National Gallery of Art. "We extend our thanks to the Henry Luce Foundation for its generous support in enabling the Gallery to make this seminal publication accessible to all, and to Juan Hamilton, for his stewardship of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at the National Gallery of Art."
"When the National Gallery of Art released Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set in 2002, it was widely hailed as one of the first definitive publications on any photographer's work and immediately became a benchmark in the history of photography," said Sarah Greenough. "We hope that this updated and expanded digital edition will introduce new audiences around the world to the importance and beauty of Stieglitz's art."
Alfred Stieglitz's "Key Set" and the Origins of the Gallery's Collection
In 1949, Georgia O'Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Estate donated 1,311 photographs by Stieglitz to the National Gallery of Art and placed on deposit an additional collection of 331 portraits of O'Keeffe, which were given in 1980. Known as the Key Set, this unparalleled collection comprises at least one print of every mounted photograph in Stieglitz's possession at the time of his death and remains one of the most important photographic collections in existence. Carefully selected by O'Keeffe to include the finest examples, the Key Set traces the evolution of Stieglitz's work from its inception in the 1880s to its rich maturation in the 1930s, and thoroughly documents all aspects of his seminal contribution to the art of photography.
Among the more than 1,600 platinum, palladium, carbon, photogravure, and gelatin silver prints is an extraordinary group of more than 300 of Stieglitz's evocative studies of clouds made from 1922 to 1937, and more than 170 portraits of his friends and colleagues throughout his career. Other highlights are exceptionally rare examples of Stieglitz's earliest work made in Europe in the 1880s and 1890s, as well as studies of New York from the 1890s through the 1930s and more than 330 portraits of O'Keeffe.
About the Project
The Alfred Stieglitz Key Set is an updated and expanded digital version of the print edition published in 2002. Freely accessible to the public, it offers new insights as well as sophisticated search capabilities. Concise illustrated texts provide an overview of the major periods of Stieglitz's photographic career, spanning his work in Europe and New York, Gallery 291, his portraits of Georgia O'Keeffe, and his photographs from the 1920s and 1930s. An illustrated section describing photographic techniques and processes used by Stieglitz has been updated with new findings from the Gallery's departments of photograph conservation and scientific research, including scientific analyses of carbon and platinum prints. Short biographies of those who appear in Stieglitz's portraits from the Key Set describe the sitter's relationship to Stieglitz.
A comprehensive list of exhibitions that Stieglitz participated in during his lifetime records the titles of Stieglitz's photographs included in each one and illustrates corresponding Key Set prints, in addition to listing select reviews published at the time of the exhibition.
A sophisticated search capability enables users to search for a single picture or group of pictures by title, date, photographic medium, Key Set number, where the photograph was made, and subject matter. When a Key Set photograph is displayed, a curated group of related Key Set photographs automatically loads. A new, flexible image viewer enables users to compare two or more images side by side and to zoom into each photograph. Researchers will be able to print PDF versions of an image and its associated content.
Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art
After a series of exhibitions in the 1980s, the Gallery began to actively acquire photographs in 1990 and established the department of photographs under the direction of Sarah Greenough. The Gallery has an international reputation for its photography exhibitions and publications, with more than 70 shows of photographs ranging from the 19th to the 21st century, most with highly acclaimed, award-winning scholarly catalogs; many of these exhibitions have traveled both nationally and internationally. The Gallery's collection includes more than 19,000 photographs encompassing the history of the medium from its beginnings in 1839 to the present, featuring in-depth holdings of works by many of the masters of the art form, including Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Ilse Bing, André Kertész, Robert Frank, and Harry Callahan, among others.
Among the most recent additions to the Gallery's photograph collection are almost 2,600 works formerly in the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In addition to 689 works from Eadweard Muybridge's pioneering publication Animal Locomotion (1887), the Corcoran's collection was especially rich in photographs made from the 1960s to the present. Its photojournalism and social documentary photography, especially the work of Gordon Parks and Jim Goldberg, greatly expands the Gallery's holdings in these areas. Other significant additions include key works by artists from the 1970s and 1980s who were early practitioners of color photography, such as a group of 27 photographs by William Eggleston, along with pictures by Jo Ann Callis, William Christenberry, Jan Groover, and Barbara Kasten.
With the opening in 2004 of five new galleries in the West Building for a rotating display of photographs, these works, as well as others from the rapidly growing collection, are frequently on view in special exhibitions at the Gallery. However, because photographs are fragile and subject to deterioration if exposed to light for extended periods, they are displayed at intervals.
Each year, numerous visitors—students, scholars, and the public—take advantage of the Gallery's Photograph Study Room to examine and enjoy these important examples of the art of photography. Photographs not on view can be seen by appointment by visiting the study room page or contacting the department of photographs at (202) 842-6144 or at email@example.com.
Key Details and Features of the Online Editions
NGA Online Editions provides free and open access to featured collections and includes introductions by curators, illustrated scholarly entries, biographies of the artists, technical summaries, a complement of related essays, and rich media. Other important features of the site include:
- Peer-Reviewed Content: content is reviewed by leading scholars in their fields to ensure that NGA Online Editions provides the solid, authoritative information for which the National Gallery of Art collection catalogs are celebrated
- Reader Mode: adjustable columns allow users to configure and reconfigure the reading environment for each scholarly entry, with enhanced access to primary and comparative images, technical images, and notes
- Compare and Explore Images: view primary and comparative images side-by-side; explore technical images using overlay and cross-fading techniques
- Enhanced Search: indexed terms and concepts drawn from entries, biographies, and essays allow for enhanced research possibilities
- Citations: cite the text using preformatted citations with assurances that a permanent URL will always return the user to the information cited
- Print/Export: print or download an entry, a biography, or an entire edition in PDF form for later use
- Archived Versions: consult or print in whole or part the current or earlier versions of each edition
NGA Online Editions is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery's permanent collection catalogs. It presents the most current, in-depth information on the Gallery's collections by the world's leading art historians along with rich capabilities for exploring that information. A customized reading environment is intended both to provide scholars with a useful workspace for research and to encourage the study and appreciation of art. Users can access the web-based, interactive catalogs at www.nga.gov/research/online-editions.html.
The series continues the Gallery's renowned systematic catalog project documenting the permanent collection. Published online in 2014 with expanded entries, Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century was the first Gallery systematic catalog to be digitized. Other editions include Italian Paintings of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (2016); American Paintings, 1900–1945 (2016); and most recently Italian Paintings of the Sixteenth Century (2019).
About National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will remain closed until late fall 2016 for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at www.nga.gov. Follow the Gallery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalGalleryofArt, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ngadc, and Instagram at http://instagram.com/ngadc.