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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Imogen Cunningham

b. 1883, Portland, Oregon; d. 1976, San Francisco

Imogen Cunningham was an American modernist photographer who became known for her botanical studies, particularly of calla lilies. Early on, her photographs were influenced by the Pictorialist Gertrude Käsebier, whose work was published in Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work. After working as a technician at the studio of Edward Curtis in Seattle, Cunningham received a scholarship to study in Dresden. In 1910, upon returning to Seattle, she opened her own photographic studio, which she operated until 1915. During this time, in addition to working as a commercial photographer, Cunningham photographed her friends in Pictorial works that were inspired by the writings of William Morris. In the early 1920s, after moving to San Francisco and working in the studio of Francis Bruguière, Cunningham began making photographs of natural forms. In 1929, she was a participant in the Film und Foto exhibition held in Stuttgart, and in the early 1930s became one of the early founders of Group f/64.