Alvin Langdon Coburn – Alvin Langdon Coburn
Publisher: Fundación Mapfre, 2014
Hardcover, 296 pages, Spanish edition
New in seal
A key American Pictorialist and a crucial innovator in abstract photography, Alvin Langdon Coburn is a fascinating but often neglected figure in the history of American modernism.
As early as 1909, Coburn was making futuristic depictions of New York and Pittsburgh, anticipating modernist architectural photography’s classic “bird’s-eye” view. In 1912, in New York, working with the Cubist artist-poet Max Weber, he developed this idiom a step further, photographing New York from the pinnacles of skyscrapers.
The following year he published Men of Mark, which featured portraits of authors, artists and statesmen, including Henri Matisse, Henry James, Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1914 Coburn relocated to London, participating in the British Vorticist movement, led by Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound; Coburn’s series of multiple exposures and “Vortographs” were the first truly abstract photographs.
So why is Coburn not better known today? After 1920 he deliberately withdrew from the photo world (though he never gave up photography) and retired to rural Wales, where he immersed himself in painting, music composition and Freemasonry. In the 1950s he was rediscovered and championed by Beaumont and Nancy Newhall of George Eastman House, to which he bequeathed almost 20,000 prints and negatives along with cameras, correspondence and ephemera.
This beautiful volume, published to accompany a show at George Eastman House and drawing on a wide range of public and private collections, reveals his work and legacy for a new generation.