KARELIN, ANDREY OSIPOVICH (1837–1906)
Professional photographer, artist
Andrey Osipovich Karelin was born in 1837 in the Tam- bov region. He was the illegitimate child of a peasant woman and a landlord. During his childhood Karelin demonstrated an inclination for painting, and at the age of ten wanted to be a master of iconic painting. The lo- cal landlord recognized his talent and in 1857, sent him to St. Petersburg Academy of Art. At the Academy, he studied with future famous artists such as I. Kramskoy, K. Makovsky and others. In the course of his studying, Karelin received two silver medals for his works.
Karelin began as a retoucher in a photographic stu- dio and later chose to experiment with photography. Upon graduating the Academy in 1864 and receiving the qualification of an “independent artist,” Karelin left St. Petersburg. In the summer he went to Nizhny Novgorod’s fair and chose to stay there to work in the studio of M. Nastjukov, one of the first photo-chronog- rapher in the Volga area.
In 1869 Karelin opened a studio of his own in Nizhny Novgorod. The photographer made portraits and multi- figured genre scenes. At first he used wet collodion, but then switched to bromgelatine plates with dimensions of 50 × 60 cm. The more perfect optical shape of the lens allowed him to achieve considerable depth of focus in his multi-figured compositions. The decisive factor affecting the scene was the light and the layout of his photos which were derived from the laws of academic painting that he studied in the Academy of Arts.
In 1870 the gentlefolks’ leader of Nizhny Novgorod requested that Karelin and the well-known Russian landscape painter I. Shishkin create an album comprised of images within Nizhny Novgorod, its neighborhood, and photos of the nationalities inhabiting the region.
The prints were water-colored by Shishkin and Karelin themselves. The exemplary album was presented to the Emperor Alexander II.
From 1870 to 1880, Karelin created a most interesting “Art Album of Photos from Life,” which contained his studio genre pictures. The photographer photographed idyllic family life where everyone in his pictures were preoccupied with something appropriate. Some were depicted playing musical instruments while others read. Karelin was in constant search for a more effec- tive means of expression. He experimented with sitters, costumes, and worked on composition by taking several pictures of the same scene. His primary concern in ar- ranging the scene was to make all the elements of the composition interactive. Karelin loved to use windows as the background for his photos, thus demonstrating his mastery in lighting, making the sitters’ features and the photographs’ details visible through exemplify- ing the light and shadow of the photograph. Karelin experimented with the role of property by photograph- ing unique objects from everyday life that he had in his varied collection, which he had been gathering for quite a while.
All the works in the album were in accordance with the laws of academic painting. Even the scenes donated to charity bore no pathos of exposure of social inequity and characteristics of injustice, which were often found in the works by peredvizhniks. Karelin tried to make photo-images less documentary by employing the method suggested by Russian photographer A. Denier. Karelin made a wide use of this technique especially in the works of considerable size, thus obtaining a soft image without needing to retouch it. M. Dmitriev, a photographer, wrote of Karelin’s works: “He was the first to show how to photo groups of sitters in a studio so as to fix marvelous effects of sunlight and make the poses of sitters dainty and noble. His works were always marked by high artistry and more to it by elaborate and subtle technical efficiency.” In 1876 Karelin was given the honorary title of photographer of the Emperor’s Academy of Arts. In the 1870s he worked the Nizhny Novgorod fair from his studio. Karelin successfully exhibited his works at photo-exhibitions at home and abroad. In 1873, he took part in the sixth International exhibition of pictorial photography in Vena, and in 1876 he won the silver medal at a Special exhibition of the French photography society in Paris. He also won a bronze medal at the centennial Exhibition held in Phila- delphia in 1876 to mark the centenary of the foundation of the United States of America. The photograhs that he exhibited at the Edinburgh Photographic Society’s Exhibition in 1876 and 1877 were very well received, and Karelin was awarded a gold medal and a diploma.
In 1878 Karelin became a member of the French na- tional academy of arts and was given a diploma from the French photography society and a gold medal at the eighth World exhibition in Paris.
Even though Karelin was very successful with pho- tography, he never stopped painting. For more then 30 years he worked as the head and teacher of a drawing and painting school that, since pedagogy was of great importance to Karelin, gave free lessons for all students. The school had 30 to 40 students of all ages. In 1886 he, along with other local artists, organized a provincial art exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod. Some of his students such as M. Dmitriev, S. Solovjev and his son A. Kare- lin later became famous. Karelin’s activities were not just confined to Nizhny Novgorod. In fact, he created portraits for and was friendly with people from all over Russia. He was acquainted with scientists, musicians, writers, and artists such as D. Mendeleev, I. Kramskoy, I. Repin, and many more.
In 1886 Karelin issued his album “Views of Nizhny Novgorod.” In this ablum he returned to landscape photography. The most remarkable of them were his panoramic views of the city and the Volga River. These photos were done by means of a landscape objective from the top of the highest bank of the river. The depth of space is, as a rule, highlighted by placing something in the foreground, the effect of which is strengthened by an aerial perspective. The album also comprised landscapes of city streets, monuments of architecture, separate buildings and fragments of buildings. And again Karelin built the composition of these photographs in accordance to the norms and rules of academic paint- ing. His choice of positioning is the reason why his photographs came out so elaborately.
Karelin’s creative works were widely acknowledged not only by specialists in photography, but also by the intelligentsia. His works immensely influenced the process of development of photography in Russia. In 1895 Karelin became a fellow member of the Russian photography society in Moscow, and in 1896 he became its honored member. In 1897 he was elected as a fel- low member of the Emperor society of natural science, anthropology and ethnography. Finally, in 1903 at an International photography exhibition in St. Petersburg, his last ever, he won a silver medal.
In the course of his life, Karelin never stopped his altruistic activities. He died in 1906 in Nizhny Novgorod. His obituary ran as follows: “He was the first to prove by all his numerous photo sketches that art and photography are very closely connected. He proved that the fantasy of a photo-artist, his dainty taste in choosing the plot for his works might be realized through photography.”
In the USSR the photo report became the main trend of the official photography, causing Karelin’s work to be forgotten. Many contemporary photographers, including the commercial photographers, are more often using and developing Karelin’s methods to achieve the maximum expression of the image by arranging the composition and the artificial lighting.
Karelin, Andrey Osipovich. Conversation in the Salon. From the Art Album of Photos from Life 1870–1880s. Private Collection: Alexei Loginov.
Andrey Osipovich Karelin was born on July 4, 1837, in the village of Selezny in the Tambov region. He studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1857 to 1864. In 1869 he opened his studio in Nizhny Novgorod. He made photo–portraits and views of the city. In 1870 together with landscape painter Shishkin he created the album “Nizhny Novgorod.” From 1870 to 1880 he created his “Art Album of Photos from Life” which comprised studio genre scenes of idyllic family life. He took part in and won prizes at numerous exhibitions. He taught painting in Nizhny Novgorod for everyone and he took an active part in the Artistic culture of the city. He created a large gallery of portraits of Russian scientists, writers, musicians, artists and public figures. In 1886 he issued the album “Views of Nizhny Novgorod,” and thus returned to landscape photography. Karelin died in 1906 in Nizhny Novgorod.
KARGOPOULO, BASILE (VASILI) (1826–1886)
Ottoman Greek photographer
Basile Kargopoulo opened his studio on Grand’ Rue de Péra in the Ottoman capital Istanbul in 1850, and opened a second studio in partnership with E. Foscolo in the city of Edirne, then a major army base.
Kargopoulo was particularly renowned for his panoramas of Istanbul, scenes of the city and the Bosphorus, and photographs of royal palaces. He kept a large wardrobe of costumes in his studio for young men who wanted to dress up for their photographs. He became well known for his series of Istanbul types, including fishermen, greengrocers, and street vendors, such as simit (bagel) and sherbet sellers, sold as mounted 6 × 9 cm prints. Today these photographs are important documents recording life in 19th century Istanbul.
Kargopoulo was appointed royal photographer to Sultan Abdulmecid (1823–1861, r. 1839–1861), and was private photographer to Sultan Murad V (1840–1904, r. 1876) When Sultan Abdülhamid II (1842–1918 r. 1876–1909) came to the throne, Kargopoulo’s appointment as royal photographer was rescinded because he did not take down the photograph of Murad V on his studio wall, but shortly later, he was reinstated.
KÄSEBIER, GERTRUDE (1852–1934)
Gertrude Käsebier came to photography relatively late in life and was soon among the most esteemed photograph- ic portraitists of her day, successful both artistically and commercially. From the end of 1897 for the next thirty years, she operated a prominent portrait studio in New York City. Her work was vigorously championed by Al- fred Stieglitz following their meeting in 1898, but within a decade, the two had begun to fall out over aesthetic and practical differences. Indeed, throughout her career, she maintained a determined independence, frequently holding what she termed “heretical views” with regard to prevailing commercial and artistic trends.
Married and the mother of three, Käsebier first made photographs using her family as a subject in 1885. In 1889, at the age of thirty-seven, she enrolled in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to study painting. Following her course of study she turned to artistic photography and, in early 1894, submitted the winning photograph to a juried contest in the Quarterly Illustrator. This prompted criticism from her painting masters for her involvement both with photography and with the illustrated press. In spring of 1894, she traveled to Europe, producing a series of photographs of French peasants, reminiscent of the paintings of Jean-François Millet, which she subsequently published in the Monthly Illustrator. In Germany, she undertook a brief apprenticeship with a chemist in order to learn the chemical basis of photog- raphy, before returning to New York in 1895.
Käsebier launched herself into professional portrait photography in 1896. After apprenticing with a com- mercial photographer, she opened her own studio in Manhattan in the winter of 1897–1898. Her style of portraiture dispensed with conventional props, focusing on softly lit heads against dark backgrounds. In addition to her fashionable clientele, she began photographing Plains Indians from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Company in April 1898, producing a series of remarkably intimate character studies.
Käsebier quickly made a name for herself as a picto- rial photographer. In June 1898, she introduced herself to Stieglitz, leading figure in the Camera Club of New York. At the 1898 Photographic Salon of Philadelphia, with Stieglitz on the jury, Käsebier exhibited her recent work and gave a lecture on the need for an artistic ap- proach to portraits emphasizing simplicity, naturalness, and directness. She recommended that artistically trained women take up “modern photography” as a “vocation” (Käsebier, 86).
Blurring distinctions between artistic and commercial photography, Käsebier charged a premium for her por- traits and favored the fine platinum print over the popular gelatin silver print. Stieglitz enthusiastically exhibited
her photographs at the Camera Club in February 1899, and in April featured them in Camera Notes. At the 1899 Philadelphia Salon, Käsebier served on the jury, alongside Clarence H. White and Fred Holland Day, and received praise for The Manger, a luminous image of a gauze-draped Madonna with child. British actress Ellen Terry would famously buy this picture for $100, an unheard-of sum for a photograph at the time.
At the 1900 Philadelphia Salon, Käsebier achieved critical acclaim for Blessed Art Thou Among Women (1899), an allegorical photograph of a young girl cross- ing a threshold into public life. Also in 1900, her work was exhibited abroad in Paris and London. In October, she and British photographer Carine Cadby became the first women elected into the elite Brotherhood of the Linked Ring. At this time, Käsebier began a series of portraits for the illustrated magazine World’s Work, photographing such eminent figures as author Mark Twain and educator Booker T. Washington. She was achieving success simultaneously on three fronts: commercially in her portrait practice, artistically in exhibitions and photography journals, and publicly in the illustrated press.
Following a stay with Eduard Steichen in Paris in the summer of 1901, Käsebier became an ardent practitioner of the gum bichromate printing process. Subsequently, she both alternated and combined platinum and gum printing techniques in her work, experimenting with different versions of the same image. Her prints might feature crisp photographic detail or moody handling of the emulsion, depending on the situation.
In 1902, Stieglitz included Käsebier as a founding member of the Photo-Secession, and in January 1903, he devoted the first issue of the Photo-Secession’s deluxe journal, Camera Work, to her work. In 1905, several pastoral images by Käsebier, among them, Happy Days (1903), were featured in Camera Work 10 and exhib- ited at Stieglitz’s newly opened Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession.
The theme of women’s emotional experience recurs throughout Käsebier’s work. In 1902 she produced Portrait of Miss N., a frankly erotic depiction of the young showgirl Evelyn Nesbit poised seductively with an open pitcher tipped toward the viewer, symbolically suggesting the girl’s entry into sexual life. Two years later, Käsebier’s wrenching portrait of the poet Agnes Lee, entitled Heritage of Motherhood, depicted a griev- ing mother in a bleak landscape.
The emphasis on depth of feeling in Käsebier’s pho- tographs led to divergent assessments of her work in 1907. An article by Mary Fanton Roberts (pseudonym Giles Edgerton) in the April issue of Craftsman praised Käsebier’s investigation of “Photography as an Emo- tional Art.” In response, Charles H. Caffin, previously a strong supporter of Käsebier, wrote a stinging satire, published in Camera Work 20 (October 1907), of the self-indulgent “emotional artist.” The privileged role of intuition in pictorial photography was beginning to give way to a more detached, modernist photographic aesthetic.
By 1909, Käsebier’s relations with Stieglitz had grown strained over her identification with professional- ism and his with non-commercialism (Michaels, 130). In 1910, in the wake of Stieglitz’s International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography, tension erupted over financial matters relating to the sale of her works (Michaels, 136). Stieglitz, meanwhile, was turning his attention away from pictorial photography in favor of the machine aesthetic and modern art. In 1911, he asked for a pledge of loyalty to the new direction that the Photo-Secession was taking under his leadership; Käsebier refused. When Clarence H. White, himself an ex-Secessionist, founded the Pictorial Photographers of America in 1916, he made Käsebier honorary vice president
From the start of her career in the mid-1890s, Käsebier’s critical fortunes had risen and fallen rather precipitously. What at first seemed bold and daring in her work came, in light of trends away from pictorial pho- tography after 1910, to seem conservative (Tighe, 98). After her death in 1934, decades of relative invisibility followed. In the 1970s, however, concurrent reevalua- tions of pictorial photography and the neglected history of women artists led to a revival of interest in Käsebier’s life and work. Subsequently, in the late 1990s, her in- novative portraits of Native Americans drew renewed attention to her exceptional career.
Gertrude Käsebier was born Gertrude Stanton in Fort Des Moines, Iowa (now Des Moines, the state capi- tol), on 18 May 1852, to a family of Quaker heritage. From the age of eight to twelve she, along with her parents, John W. Stanton and Muncy Boone Stanton, and younger brother Charles, lived in the Colorado Ter- ritory, where her father sought his fortune in the gold rush. After finding success in mining operations, he and his family moved east in 1864, settling in Brook- lyn, New York. Käsebier attended Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from 1868 to 1870. In 1874 she married Eduard Käsebier, a German immigrant and shellac importer six years her senior. Living first in Brooklyn and later in New Jersey, the Käsebiers raised three children before Gertrude decided to pursue a career as a painter, returning to Brooklyn to study at the Pratt Institute from 1889 to 1895. Turning in 1896 to a profession in photography, she apprenticed with Brooklyn portrait photographer Samuel H. Lifshey. Following her apprenticeship she
operated a highly regarded portrait studio in New York for thirty years, before physical ailments forced her retirement. A member of the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring from 1900–1909 and of the Photo-Seces- sion from 1902–1912, she knew and exhibited with all of the major pictorial photographers. Käsebier died on 13 October 1934 in New York City at the age of 82. Her husband predeceased her by twenty-five years. Early in her career, she published her photographs in many journals and magazines including The Monthly Illustrator, The World’s Work, Everybody’s Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Harper’s Bazaar. Major exhibitions during Käsebier’s lifetime included the Philadelphia Photographic Salon, Pennsylvania Acad- emy of Fine Arts, 1898, 1899, 1900; The New School of American Photography, curated by F. Holland Day, Royal Photographic Society, London, 1900; American Pictorial Photography Organized by the Photo-Seces- sion, National Arts Club, New York, 1902; and the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, 1910.