Sunburn, New York, 1925
Luxembourger, American, 1879 - 1973
gelatin silver print, toned
25 x 20 cm; image: 24 x 19.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40068)
portrait, single, female; close-up view of girl's sunburned face
Edward Steichen's career came to embrace almost all the shifts that shaped photography as an art form in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. An accomplished Pictorialist photographer, he turned, in the 1920s, to an aesthetic more closely aligned to "straight" photography, as well as to the business of fashion photography. Published in Life magazine, this is a portrait of an unknown subject who came to the photographer's studio after a day on the beach. Steichen was apparently struck by the "peculiar, almost wild, look that the sunburn gave to her eyes." The shape of the head in this radical composition evokes the sculptural forms of Brancusi.