Pictorialism, European artistic mouvement

Pictorialism is a term that comes from the word « picture » and designates a European artistic movement developed between 1890 and 1914. This movement will slowly disappear after the first World War.

A new form of artistic expression

This movement holds an important place in the history of photography, as its founders had the ambition to make photography a fine art, and to make photography an artistic way of expression.

New artistic form of expression, pictorialism is between photography and painting. Photographers that were part of this movement found inspiration in the history of occidental painting, with artists such as Vemeer and Degas creating artwork.

They also want to transform real life with different tricks such as blur, chiaroscuro or cropped framing. Adding manual intervention in the development process of photographs, using special paper, and editing their photographs directly on the negatives.

This movement rapidly grew across Europe through amateur photography clubs like the Linked Ring in London, the Photo-Club in Paris, the Wiener Camera Club in Vienna, and the Gesellschaft zur Försderung of Amateurs in Hamburg, as well as the numerous photo exhibitions that started to take place, based on the model of painting exhibitions.

Along with this new movement will appear photography critic, with the creation of magazines dedicated to photography like Le Monde de la Photographie, Photo-gazette, Le Photogramme, La Revue de Photographie.

In 1902, this movement will take an international dimension thanks to the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, founder of the Photo-Secessions organization in New-York, as well as the Camera Work magazine in partnership with Clarence White and Edward Steichen.

The creation of these institutions around the world will allow photography to enter the world of the fine arts, and to be recognized as a form of art.