The Steerage

Alfred Stieglitz

1864 - 1946

The Steerage

1907, printed before 1913

13 1/8 x 10 1/2 in. (33.3 x 26.7 cm)
Framed: 20 3/4 x 16 3/4 x 1 1/8 in. (52.7 x 42.5 x 2.9 cm)

One of the most iconic images in the history of photography, The Steerage represents a shift in perception and way of seeing for the medium. Although Stieglitz was the leading advocate for Pictorialism—a trend in photography that favored soft-focus, romanticized subjects, and artistic, manipulative printing practices—Stieglitz as an artist never fully practiced the methods in his own work. This image marked the official shift from his tendency toward a natural atmospheric haze, as seen in The Hand of Man, to a focus on elemental shapes, figures, highlights, shadow, and bisected visual planes. This early shift to Modernist seeing and thinking is what kept Stieglitz on the forefront of artistic trends.