Underbridge Pictures




Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Stieglitz's Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, 291.

Photographs in the Pictorialist style, printed using early 20th century processes including gum, platinum and photogravure, and presented in the manner of the Little Galleries at 291.

Pictorialism, a photographic movement at the beginning of the twentieth century, proposed that photography was equal to painting and drawing, and worthy of display in art galleries and museums. In general, Pictorial images relied on soft focus and grainy, hand-worked printing techniques. The leading proponent of Pictorialism in America was Alfred Stieglitz. His magazine Camera Work, with its lavish illustrations, brought avant garde photographs to people all over the world. He was the founder of the loosely organized Photo-Secession and opened his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue, in November 1905. Eventually Stieglitz was the first to show Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and Georgia O’Keeffe in America, and was the first anywhere to publish the writings of Gertrude Stein.

David Sokosh has created an installation piece to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession. Working in the pictorialist mode and using many early printing techniques, Sokosh has transformed his gallery Underbridge Pictures, hanging his show in the manner of Stieglitz’s gallery at 291.

Some of Sokosh’s images refer directly to specific photographs made 100 years ago. His uncanny resemblance to Stieglitz brings humor to his recreation of Steichen’s famous 1907 color portrait of the celebrated photographer holding a copy of his magazine Camera Work. In his images reminiscent of F. Holland Day’s self-portraits as Christ, Sokosh gives a nod to Cindy Sherman and the Starn Twins. Other pictures in the show refer to Stieglitz’s studies of the modern city without referencing specific images. Still other images use the language of Pictorialism while referencing Whistler, Sargent and other luminaries of the period.

“When I decided to open this gallery in March”, Sokosh says, “I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with the idea of showing my own work. A friend asked if I knew of other gallery owners who had shown their own things. The first person I thought of was Alfred Stieglitz.” As he began to learn more about Stieglitz, Sokosh discovered a number of striking parallels. “ We were born almost exactly 100 years apart, I on October 1, 1963, and Stieglitz on January 1, 1864. He opened his first gallery in 1905, and I opened mine in 2005. Both of us, just past forty, starting a new venture in art, in New York.”

Sokosh decided to plan an exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Stieglitz opening his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, to run for the month of November 2005. “At first I thought I could gather up archival material, vintage photogravures and other prints, for a show. As I thought about it, I realized that there are many institutions in New York, which could do a show like that right out of their archives, without purchasing or borrowing a thing. I decided to do an homage, creating new Pictorial work, and placing it in an interior reminiscent of Stieglitz’s gallery.”