previews

New York

Edward Steichen

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
October 5–February 3

Edward Steichen's work might look musty and overrefined these days, but there's no denying the influence of his switch from impressionist Pictorialism to crisp modernism, or the definitive elegance of his work in both styles, or his crusading, entrepreneurial spirit. By the time Steichen put down his camera in 1947 to become the first head of MoMA's department of photography, he'd cofounded 291, New York's inaugural photo and art gallery (with mentor Alfred Stieglitz) and landed a lucrative contract with Condé Nast. Much of the vintage work curator Barbara Haskell has gathered for this retrospective (the first major Steichen exhibition since 1961) was shot for Vogue and Vanity Fair—not to mention any number of grateful advertisers.