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Imogen Cunningham Art Prints

Imogen Cunningham's photographic work is in museums and private collections around the world. Solo exhibitions, the first in the Brooklyn Museum and the Portland Art Museum in 1914, have continued to this day. Books, catalogues, and articles about her and her work are extensive. A 1988 Oscar-nominated film, 'Portrait of Imogen,' made by her granddaughter, Meg Partridge, has won numerous awards in the United States and abroad and is in wide circulation. Cunningham ordered her first camera from a correspondence school during her student years at the University of Washington. Her father, who had always encouraged her interest in the arts and literature, was dismayed at her determination to be a 'dirty photographer.' Despite these feelings, he helped her build a darkroom in the family woodshed and equipped it with a candle-lit safelight. It was the first in a seventy-year series of cramped, inadequate darkrooms. On the advice of one of her professors, who foresaw a career in scientific photography for her, Cunningham studied chemistry, writing her senior thesis on Modern Processes of Photography. Her first photographs were of a dawn in a marsh, a portrait of her father, and a photograph of herself face down, full length and nude on the university campus. Her first photographic income came from an assignment to make lantern slides for a botany professor. After graduation, she worked in the Curtis Studio in Seattle, processing platinum prints until a scholarship from her college sorority funded a yearis study of chemistry in Germany. A number of years later, she joined with several Bay Area photographers sharing a mutual ideology to form Group f.64. Named after the smallest aperature of a camera, the founding members included Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Willard Van Dyke. While short-lived, the work of Group f.64 remains a major influence on photography today. As her boys grew older and self-sufficient, Cunningham began to work away from home. An occasional assignment for Vanity Fair in Hollywood led to a proposal to spend a month in New York and to a divorce from an uncooperative husband. She returned home and supported herself with her portrait commissions, sales of her early plant photographs, interior design work, and teaching at the California School of Fine Arts. Despite her experimentation with different photographic methods throughout her career, her perspectives remained consistently unique. She was still photographing until a few days before her death in 1976 at the age of 94.

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