Friday, December 2, 2011

Evelyn Hofer

Evelyn Hofer by Andreas Pauly

"Anna and Emma, Dublin," 1966

"Gravediggers, Dublin," 1966

"Paris," 1967

"Phoenic Park on a Sunday, Dublin," 1966

"Eighth Street, Washington, D.C.," 1965

"Washington, D.C.," 1965

"Miranda, London," 1980

Many thanks to Andreas Pauly and the Evelyn Hofer Estate for their kind cooperation, and for allowing to feature Ms. Hofer's work here on my blog.

Evelyn Hofer Obituary by William Grimes for the New York Times, published November 11, 2009:

Evelyn Hofer, a photographer whose searching, exactingly composed portraits imparted a grave serenity to her human and architectural subjects and who collaborated on a renowned series of travel books with eminent writers in the 1950s and 1960s, died on Nov. 2 in Mexico City. She was 87 and lived in Mexico City.

The cause was a stroke, said Andreas Pauly, her longtime assistant and the heir to her photographic estate.

Working with a cumbersome four- by five-inch viewfinder camera, Ms. Hofer (pronounced HOE-fer) photographed her subjects on location but favored carefully composed scenes with a still, timeless aura.

A flawless technician, much sought after as a teacher by younger photographers, she searched, as she put it, for an ''inside value, some interior respect'' in the people she photographed, nearly always in black and white. Her architectural photographs, too, seemed to eliminate the distractions of the here and now.

The art critic Hilton Kramer, one of Ms. Hofer's champions, praised her powers of  ''pure observation'' and her dedication to form. ''Somehow she manages to make of the visual rhythms of Manhattan architecture, both new and old, something as distant from the vulgarities of the workaday world as a design by Palladio -- and something quite as elegant,'' he wrote in a review of her photographs in ''Manhattan Now,'' a 1974 exhibition at the New-York Historical Society.

Ms. Hofer's studied approach -- the gravity and stasis of her portraits owed much to the German photographer August Sander -- put her at odds with the candid, on-the-fly photography of contemporaries like Robert Frank. She remained unrecognized by most critics and curators, and never received a museum show in the United States. In 1994 the Musée de l'Élysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, presented a retrospective of her work, ''The Universal Eye.''

Her stock was higher with writers, many of whom were keen to collaborate with her, as Mary McCarthy, V. S. Pritchett and James (later Jan) Morris did in several highly regarded literary portraits of Florence, London, New York, Dublin and Spain.

''She has an extraordinary eye for subtle differences in the quality of light and in the details of texture and shape, whether her subject is the Duomo in Florence or two young waiters in a Dublin restaurant, and she has extraordinary patience, too, in capturing from every subject the exact image she intends to wrest from it,'' Mr. Kramer wrote in 1977, reviewing an exhibition at the Witkin Gallery in Manhattan. ''She is, in my opinion, one of the living masters of her medium.''

Evelyn Elvira Hofer was born on Jan. 21, 1922, in comfortable circumstances in Marburg, Germany, where her father was in the pharmaceuticals business. In 1933, when Hitler came to power, her fervently anti-Nazi father took the family to Geneva and later Madrid.

Evelyn intended to become a concert pianist and applied to the Paris Conservatory but failed to gain entrance. After abandoning the idea of a musical career, she apprenticed to photographers in Zurich and Basel. She later took private lessons in Zurich with Hans Finsler, who was known for ''object photography.''

After Franco's victory in Spain the Hofers emigrated to Mexico, where Evelyn began working as a professional photographer and finding the images that became part of her first book, ''The Pleasures of Mexico'' (1957), which she later disowned.

Her career began in earnest after she arrived in New York in 1946 and began working with Alexey Brodovitch, the great art director of Harper's Bazaar. In New York she became friends with the artist Richard Lindner, a fellow German émigré, who took her artistic education in hand and, she later said, ''showed me how to look.'' Another close friend was the artist and cartoonist Saul Steinberg.

In 1959, she and other artists contributed photographs to Mary McCarthy's literary and historical travel book ''The Stones of Florence.'' Her photographs were singled out for special mention by many critics, and the book's success led to a collaboration with V. S. Pritchett on ''London Perceived'' (1962).

''I have never seen a volume of London photographs that evoked the complexities of the city with such subtle discrimination,'' Philip Toynbee wrote in The New York Times Book Review. ''The headwaiter stands, with a certain pensive arrogance, behind a laid table in the Garrick Club; a milkman calls on an old lady who is just managing to keep up appearances in the near-squalor of her Battersea rooms; in the Red Lion public house, Duke of York Street, a bowler-hatted businessman eyes his tankard of bitter with the affection of a very, very long acquaintance.''

These, he wrote, were superior genre studies of Londoners ''caught in their natural habitat.''

The travel format served Ms. Hofer well in two more ventures with Pritchett, ''New York Proclaimed'' (1965) and ''Dublin: A Portrait'' (1967), as well as in ''The Presence of Spain'' (1964), by James Morris, and ''The Evidence of Washington'' (1966), by William Walton. She returned to Italy to chronicle Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1833 visit for ''Emerson in Italy'' (1989), with text by Evelyn Barish.

In her later years she photographed the Basque country of Spain and its people, as well as the village of Soglio in Switzerland, where she spent her summers. She also produced a number of lush, painterly still-life photographs, in color, using the dye-transfer process. Many of these images were included in the monograph ''Evelyn Hofer,'' published by Steidl in 2005.

Ms. Hofer is survived by a sister, Aline Schunemann-Hofer of Mexico City.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lisette Model

Lisette Model photographed by Weegee

"Never take a picture of anything you are not passionately interested in."

"... photography is an art form which means: human beings expressing their understanding of and connection with life, themselves, and other human beings."

"I am a pationate lover of the snapshot, because of all photographic images, it comes closest to the truth ... the snapshooter['s] pictures have an apparent disorder and imperfection which is exactly their appeal and their style."

"San Francisco, 1949"

"Shadows, Woman with Handbag," 1940-41

"Reflections, New York City," 1939-45

"Sammy's, New York City," 1940-44

"Belmont Park, New York City," 1956

"Coney Island Bather, New York City," 1940

"Metropole Cafe, New York City," ca. 1946

Lisette Model Biography from The Photography Encyclopedia by Fred McDarrah:

Model, Lisette (Austrian, 1901-1983)

Inspirational teacher for a whole generation of young photographers, most notably Diane Arbus, at The New School, Model produced many noteworthy series of photographs. Her candid portraits of people on the fringes of society secured her reputation, and she went on to produce portfolios such as Reflections, portraying those mysterious images in store windows along Fifth Avenue.

Born in Vienna, she studied music with Arnold Schonberg there before moving to Paris, where she continued her musical training. Around 1933 she turned from a musical career to pursue her interest in painting and photography. She quickly focused on subjects that would be her major interest ironic studies of the well to do and sympathetic portraits of the blind and homeless.

Seeking to escape the political unrest of 1938 Europe, she emigrated with her husband, Evsa Model, to New York City. She worked in the photo lab of the newspaper PM until her photos of wealthy vacationers in the south of France appeared in the newspaper and established her reputation. By 1940 the Museum of Modern Art had acquired two of her prints and she was working for Harper's Bazaar. With the guidance of the magazine's art director, Alexey Brodovitch, she took pictures of unconventional nightclub performers as well as more experimental images.

From 1951 to 1954 and from 1958 to her death she was an instructor of photography at The New School. She was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1965 and a Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) grant in 1967. A selection of her photos, Lisette Model, was published in 1979, and her work is held by major institutions, including the George Eastman House in Rochester and the Smithsonian Institution.

Lisette Model Commentary from Bystander: A History of Street Photography by Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck:

Another refugee who had to stoop to hustling, scrambling, and scraping by, and ultimately to street photography to support herself, was Lisette Model. Although she came from Vienna, Model had a background similar to Gutmann's, which gave her a Berliner's perspective on life. She too had come from a wealthy family and studied painting before taking up photography. She had been exposed to avant garde art and unconventional ideas from the time she was a child, when her favorite playmate was the daughter of composer (and future emigre to Hollywood) Arnold Schoenberg. Like Gutmann, Model turned to photography at the suggestion of a friend who pointed out that with the rise of Hitler, it might be useful to have an itinerant profession.

Since she was living then in Paris with her Russian Jewish husband, this seemed to Model a good idea. With some instruction from Kertesz's wife, Elizabeth, she set out for the south of France to try her hand at street photography. From the very beginning she sought out subjects who would suggest the corruptness of society. Pictures from the test rolls she shot along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice could easily be taken for caricatures George Grosz had drawn of cabaret goers on the Kurfurstendamm.

Like Grosz, Model saw her subjects as misshapen, almost beastly. A wealthy dowager is photographed at a moment when her face has exactly the same expression as her lapdog's. A gambler sunning himself in a chair watches Model with a lizard eye and hands curled like the talons of a pet bird of prey gripping its perch. Model worked often in the late afternoon, thus giving us the impression that darkness is about to descend on the world in which these people live. When she got back to Paris, she continued her project by making pictures of the poor that complemented those she had done of the rich. She again photographed the obese and the grotesque.

Petite and refined though Model was, her photographs are as aggressive as an assault with a blunt instrument. Nearly all are the most direct of street portraits, head on confrontations with unattractive subjects. They have a brutal look whose relentless consistency from one picture to the next implies a universal brutishness inherent in man himself. It's a look Model emphasized by always insisting on big (16 x 20"), rough prints. And in America she continued to see the world in the same terms, photographing both derelicts and society matrons, so that they reflected each other's grossness. She found in American vulgarity the perfect counterpoint to the European decadence she had left behind.

The only change that seems to have come over her photography was in the direction of a greater Expressionism, making her images still more like Gutmann's and Grosz's. Model began photographing reflections of the street in shop windows in a way that makes New York look like the town in which Dr. Caligari lived. She also started a series in which she lowered the camera to the level of the sidewalk to catch the blurry tangle of passing feet. This imagery is straight out of the bad dreams of a refugee from Nazism. The pictures have an oppressive, claustrophobic feeling, as if made by somebody who had lost her footing in a panic in the streets and was being trampled by the crowd.

Some of Model's other pictures from the 1940s, in which she aimed up at passersby at close range, are a variation on the same theme. In one, a banker in a bowler walks under the statue of George Washington on Wall Street. The statue extends its hand in what looks like a gesture meant to keep someone on his knees from rising. A massive, grisly figure, so close that he is out of focus, the banker has a shadow like a bandit's mask concealing his eyes. He bears down on Model as if about to run her over. She appears to be literally beneath his notice.

Thus does a misanthropy that began in Nice continue in New York until, in Venezuela in the 1950s, it seems to have come full circle to have become in effect a vicious circle - in some pictures that she took of life-size voodoo dolls. Sitting up in chairs, these effigies could almost be the mummified corpses of real people. (They look like the slowly decomposing remains of the guests at the Riviera hotels whom Model had photographed in their chairs along the Promenade des Anglais almost twenty years earlier.)

Like Gutmann, Model had a long career as a teacher but a relatively short one as a working photographer. Although she got a steady stream of assignments from Harper's Bazaar for a while, those ended by 1951, and virtually all the photographs for which she is known were taken in the thirties and forties. In fact, her entire American reputation was built on those few test rolls shot on the Riviera. That she was praised effusively for such a meager body of work only made her initial success in America seem to her as specious and potentially transient as life had proven to be in Europe.

She mistrusted the fact that the Americans were, as she put it, "making [a] beginner into a star, putting me on a pedestal for something I didn't even know ... I was doing."' Her rough, overenlarged prints were admired in the same fashion, for an artistry to which they did not pretend. When Edward Weston wanted to know how she achieved the effect they had, she told him that she took her film to the corner drugstore to be processed. The sarcastic answer, the grainy prints, the ugly subject matter, and the crude negatives that were often motion blurred or out of focus were all of a piece. So was the imagery. Like those of Grosz or Gutmann, her pictures match a disregard for art with a disrespect for the world as she saw it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Timothy O'Sullivan

Timothy O'Sullivan

"The battle of Bull Run would have been photographed 'close up' but for the fact that a shell from one of the rebel field-pieces took away the photographer's camera."  

"Place and people are made familiar to us by means of the camera in the hands of skillful operators, who, vying with each other in the excellence of their productions, avail themselves of every opportunity to visit interesting points, and to take care to lose no good chance to scour the country in search of new fields for photographic labor."

"Group of Officers, Headquarters Army of the Potomac," 1863

"Harvest of Death, July 4, 1863"

"General Grant and His Staff," 1864

"Slaves, J.J. Stanton Plantation, South Carolina," 1862

"Apache Warrior," 1873

"Old Mission Church, Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico," 1873

"Fissure Vent, Steamboat Springs," 1867

"Black Canyon, Colorado River," 1871

"White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly," 1873

Timothy O'Sullivan Biography from Smithsonian American Art Museum:

O'Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice in Mathew Brady's Fulton Street gallery in New York City and then moved on to the Washington, D.C., branch managed by Alexander Gardner. In 1861, at the age of twenty-one, O'Sullivan joined Brady's team of Civil War photographers. When Gardner left Brady, O'Sullivan went with him, working for Gardner until the end of the war. Several of his images were included in Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. O'Sullivan built his reputation on images that conveyed the destructive power of modern warfare. His photographs of Forts Fisher and Sedgwick suggest the dismal psychological as well as physical effect of continual barrages of distant cannon fire on the soldiers behind the barricades.

In 1867 O'Sullivan joined Clarence King's geological survey of the fortieth parallel—the first federal expedition in the West after the Civil War. The letter of authorization, dated March 21, 1867, from Brigadier General A. A. Humphreys, chief of engineers, Department of War, charged King "to direct a geological and topographical exploration of the territory between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, including the route or routes of the Pacific railroad." O'Sullivan was strongly influenced by King's interest in the arts (he was a member of the Ruskinian group, the Society for the Advancement of Truth in Art), as well as by contemporary science and its attendant controversies. His work for the King survey often functioned as both objective scientific documentation and a personal evocation of the fantastic and beautiful qualities of the western landscape.

In 1871 O'Sullivan joined the geological surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, under the command of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. An army man rather than a civilian scientist like King, Wheeler insisted on a survey that would be of practical value. His reports included information likely to be useful in the establishment of roads and rail routes and the development of economic resources. Wheeler's captions for O'Sullivan's pictures provide geological information but also emphasize that the West was a hospitable place for settlers. For example, he compared Shoshone Falls favorably to Niagara Falls, the most popular American symbol of nature's grandeur. Indeed, O'Sullivan's 1874 image of Shoshone Falls, a version of a nearly identical image of the falls he made for King six years before in 1868, emphasized perspective as picturesque as it was dramatically precipitant.

Flat-bottomed boats were used to go up the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to the mouth of Diamond Creek. O'Sullivan commanded one of the boats, which he christened The Picture. Many of his negatives on glass plates were lost in transport, but surviving views of the Colorado's canyons are among his finest.

In 1873 O'Sullivan led an independent expedition for Wheeler, visiting the Zuni and Magia pueblos and the Canyon de Chelly, with its remnants of a cliff-dwelling culture. O'Sullivan's 1873 images of Apache scouts are among the few unromanticized pictures of the western Indian, unlike those of many ethnographic photographers who posed Indians in the studio or outdoors against neutral backgrounds.

From:  Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

William Coupon

"William Coupon, Self Portrait"

"Wheel Twirl, Carnival, Maryland"

"The Bellagio, Las Vegas"

"Holiday Inn, Las Vegas"

I want to thank William Coupon for his kind permission, allowing me to share his work here on my Masters of Photography blog.

Willaim Coupon biography from his web site:

My first photographs were photographs that talked – called "audiographs" – which were photographs that had looped cassettes behind a framed image, and photographs that moved – called "kinetographs" – which were photographs that were attached to moving motors. The "kinetographs" were commissioned for window displays at Bloomingdale’s in the late l970’s. I photographed a documentary on Studio 54, the legendary New York disco, in late summer l978, and they immediately were included in the International Center of Photography exhibition: "Fleeting Gestures: Treasures of Dance Photography."

I became interested in formal studio portraits in 1979 while observing it’s lower Manhattan youth (my peers) and it’s present counter-culture, and decided early on to use a single-light source and simple mottled backdrop, and when I needed to, I would set this up as a portable studio, one highly mobile. This was then used to document global sub-cultures. Many of the projects – referred to as "Social Studies" – became documents of indigenous people. These include projects on Haiti, Australian Aboriginals, Native Americans, Scandinavian Laplanders, Israeli Druzim, Moroccan BerbersSpanish Gypsies, Turkish Kurds, Central African Pygmy, and Panamanian Cuna and Chocoe. These projects also included Death Row Inmates, Drag Queens, and Cowboys. Stylistically, they were always photographed formally on the backdrop, and contextually, or environmentally , with 2 1/4 Rolleiflex black and white images, which were meant to be companions to the studio portraits.

Willaim Coupon biography from Wikipedia:

William Coupon (born December 3, 1952) is an American photographer, born in New York City, known principally for his formal painterly backdrop portraits of tribal people, politicians and celebrities.

William Coupon was born in New York City, but moved to Washington, D.C. and later to San Francisco. He attended Syracuse University and ultimately moved to New York City to begin his photographic career. He began in 1979 to photograph backdrop portraits of New York’s youth culture, to document its “New Wave/Punk” scene at the then popular Mudd Club in lower Manhattan. Commercial work soon followed for a variety of international magazines, record companies and advertising agencies.

The portrait style is up-close and painterly, with very warm earth tones against a mottled canvas. The style is usually medium-shot and classically lit using medium format cameras, referencing the Dutch painting masters such as Rembrandt and Holbein. The portraits have a quality about them that is less about fashion than about personality and as groups there is attempt to show their disparity as well what is relatable amongst the earth’s faces in a manner that is real, non-compromising, or over-glamorized. They were often accompanied by environmental images, which have a noticeably journalistic feel.

Some of his most notable images are of the Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (which were “Person of the Year” covers for Time Magazine), Yasser Arafat, George Harrison, Willy DeVille, Mick Jagger, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Miles Davis.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hannah Höch

"Hannah Höch with Dada Dolls," 1920

"I wish to blur the firm boundaries which we self-certain people tend to delineate around all we can achieve."

"Da Dandy," 1919

"And Why Do You Think the Moon Is Setting," 1921

"Love in the Bush," 1925

"Indian Female Cancer," 1930

"Grotesque," 1963

Hannah Höch biography from the review of "The Photomontages of Hannah Höch" by Missy Finger, Co-Director, Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, Dallas, Taxas.  Featured are essays by Peter Boswell, Maria Makela, Carolyn Lanchner.

Hannah Höch, an artist mostly known as the sole female member of the Berlin DADA movement, was a pioneer of photomontage. The complex imagery of her montage work explores her fragmented life as a woman within a male dominated art movement and pre-war and post-war society in Germany. The book was published in conjunction with an exhibition which specifically chronicles her artistic career in photomontage, even though she was working with other media such as painting, water-color, and drawing throughout her life. The exhibition was organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and traveled to The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Los Angeles County Museum afterwards last year.

The extraordinary book includes three essays that analyze Höch's career from pre-World War II Germany to post-war Germany, with over 100 color reproductions of the montages, a great asset to this book. It also includes a fully illustrated chronology of Höch's life.

The term photomontage is a term coined by the Berlin Dadaists that translates as a piecing together of photographic and typographic sources. The exhibition included the most memorable and largest photomontage (44 7/8 x 35 7/16 inches) from her DADA years, Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser Dada durch die Letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands (Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany) from 1919-1920. This belongs to the National Gallery, Berlin, and was seen only in the MOMA venue in New York.

Berlin DADA members included Raoul Hausmann, Hannah's lover for seven years, John Heartfield, George Grosz, Johannes Baader, and Richard Huelsenbeck. The group dealt with social and political issues in their art with a zest for breaking conventions. Painting was bourgeois and their anti-art generated new media including found objects. It is interesting to note that Hannah Höch and Raoul Hausmann developed the montage idea while on vacation in 1918 in a town on the Baltic Sea, Heidebrink. There they found a technique of engraving which placed photographic portraits of heads of local men away at war atop a generic, uniformed torso.

Tracing Höch's career as a DADA member, the book asserts the fact that her male counterparts marginalized her participation. This was during the time in Europe that women were given suffrage, magazines were being published for women, and Höch was using this epochal time as material for her art.The rigid gender roles are toyed with in a destructive manner, often placing a woman's head or legs on a male body, and vice versa.

In the post-war era, she infuses African art in her Ethnographic Museum series we note that women are justaposed with primitive imagery, relating women's slow progress in contemporary German culture. An interesting example of this period of work can be seen at the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth, Liebe im Busch 1925 (Love in the Bush).

Höch was born in the small town of Gotha in 1889. She later pursued the applied arts, rather than fine arts, as a more practical career choice for a woman at that time.She was employed by Ullstein Press designing dress and embroidery patterns for Die Dame (The Lady) and Die praktische Berlinerin (The Practical Berlin Woman). Working for the company that publishes BIZ, Der Querschnitt and Uhu, gave Höch the source material for her montage work. The exhibition book sometimes illustrates the original photograph that Höch used for a particular montage, giving us the advantage of seeing her clever, but complex manipulation of form and images.

Her art throughout her life reflects many influences of style, from constructivism to surrealism to futurism. We can see the roots of Robert Rauschenberg's massive scale collages of the sixties, and we can also appreciate that Pop Art has its roots in DADA.

Later montages by Höch become less cutting, more humorous. She inscribes at the bottom of a drawing from 1969, Dank für die Zeitschriften (Thanks for the magazines)--the source for these photomontages that are published in this scholarly book and exhibition.

For people associated with the Goethe Center, it might be interesting to note that in 1985, the West German government showcased Hannah Höch in a program of traveling exhibitions to introduce 20th Century German art to non-German audiences, the New York Goethe House being one venue in 1992. Now there are several books written about Höch in the English language. Many of the collages illustrated in this book were selected from the collections of the following German museums: Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum Für Moderne Kunst, Photographie und Architektur, Berlin; Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett; Institut Für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart; and the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.

More information about Hannah Höch can be found in the following publications: Hannah Höch, 1889-1978: Collages (Foreign Cultural Relations, Stuttgart, 1985); Cut with the Kitchen Knife: Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch (Yale University, 1993); and Three Berlin Artists of the Weimar Era: Hannah Höch, Käthe Kollwitz, Jeanne Mammen (Des Moines Art Center, 1994). All these books are reviewed by Jean Owens Schaefer in the Fall/Winter 1997 issue of Woman's Art Journal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anne W. Brigman

Self Portrait

"The Watcher," 1908

"Figure in the Landscape," 1923

"Tranquility," 1929

"Sancturay," 1921

"The Breeze," 1910

"Spirit of Photography," 1908

"Souls of the Weeping Rock," 1910

Anne W. Brigman biography from Wikipedia:

Anne Wardrope (Nott) Brigman (1869–1950) was an American photographer and one of the original members of the Photo-Secession movement in America. Her most famous images were taken between 1900 and 1920, and depict nude women in primordial, naturalistic contexts.

Brigman was born in the Nuuanu Valley above Honolulu, Hawaii on 3 December 1869. She was the oldest of eight children born to Mary Ellen Andrews Nott, whose parents has moved to Hawaii as missionaries in 1828. Her father, Samuel Nott, was from Gloucester, England. When she was sixteen her family moved to Los Gatos, California, and nothing is known about why they moved or what they did after arriving in California. In 1894 she married a sea captain, Martin Brigman. She accompanied her husband on several voyages to the South Seas, returning to Hawaii at least once.

After 1900 she stopped traveling with her husband and became active in the growing bohemian community of the San Francisco Bay area. She was close friends with the writer Jack London and the poet and naturalist Charles Keeler. Perhaps seeking her own artistic outlet, she began photographing in 1901. Soon she was exhibiting in local photographic salons, and within two years she had developed a reputation as a master of pictorial photography. In late 1902 she came across a copy of Camera Work and was captivated by the images and the writings of Alfred Stieglitz. She wrote Stieglitz praising him for the journal, and Stieglitz in turn soon became captivated with Brigman's photography. In 1902 he listed her as an official member of the Photo-Secession, which, because of Stieglitz's notoriously high standards and because of her distance from the other members in New York, is a significant indicator of her artistic status. In 1906 she was listed as a Fellow of the Photo-Secession, the only photographer west of the Mississippi to be so honored.

From 1903 to 1908 Stieglitz exhibited Brigman's photos many times, and her photos were printed in three issues of Stieglitz's journal Camera Work. During this same period he often exhibited and corresponded under the name "Annie Brigman", but in 1911 she dropped the "i" and was known from then on as "Anne". Although she was well known for her artistic work, she did not do any commercial or portrait work like some of her comptemporaries. In 1910 she and her husband separated, and she moved into a house with her mother. By 1913 she was living alone "in a tiny cabin...with a red dog...and 12 tame birds". She continued to exhibit for many years and was included in the landmark International Exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York in 1911 and the Internation Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in San Francisco in 1922.

In California, she became revered by West Coast photographers and her photography influenced many of her contemporaries. Here, she was also known as an actress in local plays, and as a poet performing both her own work and more popular pieces such as Enoch Arden. An admirer of the work of George Wharton James, she photographed him on at least one occasion.

She continued photography through the 1940s, and her work evolved from a pure pictorial style to more of a straight photography approach, although she never really abandoned her original vision. Her later close-up photos of sandy beaches and vegetation are fascinating abstractions in black-and-white. In the mid-1930s she also began taking creative writing classes, and soon she was writing poetry. Encouraged by her writing instructor, she put together a book of her poems and photographs call Songs of a Pagan. She found a publisher for the book in 1941, but because of World War II the book was not printed until 1949, one year before she died. Brigman died on 8 February 1950 at her sister's home in El Monte, California.

Brigman's photographs frequently focused on the female nude, dramatically situated in natural landscapes or trees. Many of her photos were taken in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in carefully selected locations and featuring elaborately staged poses. Brigman often featured herself as the subject of her images. After shooting the photographs, she would extensively touch up the negatives with paints, pencil, or superimposition.

Brigman's deliberately counter-cultural images suggested bohemianism and female liberation. Her work challenged the establishment's cultural norms and defied convention, instead embracing pagan antiquity. The raw emotional intensity and barbaric strength of her photos contrasted with the carefully calculated and composed images of Stieglitz and other modern photographers.