Frank Pictures Gallery opens Imogen Cunningham, Vintage and Signed Photographs, on November 19, 2011. The exhibition featuring rare photographs Cunningham shot and printed herself at the time of their conception, spans her enduring and miraculous seven-decade career, resulting in some of the most outstanding contributions to fine art photography. Even though her first love was portraiture, Imogen Cunningham is most known for her stunning close-ups of flowers and her uncensored celebration of the human form. A sensualist, Cunningham pushed boundaries, both as an artist and a woman. No stranger to the scandal her images evoked, she constantly defied limits.
Imogen Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon, on April 12, 1883. One of her first photographs was a 1906 nude self-portrait, taken on an isolated spot on the UW campus with a 4"x5" mail-order camera. Cunningham established her own studio in 1910, becoming one of the very first professional woman photographers. She encouraged other women to join her, publishing an article in 1913 titled "Photography as a Profession for Women". On February 11, 1915, Cunningham married Roi Partridge, an artist himself and an artistic collaboration between them flourished. Together, they enjoyed exploring the local nature terrain and especially that of Mount Rainier, where she engaged him as a model in an extended series of the nude in the wilderness. The publication of these images created a local scandal and invited so much ridicule that Cunningham retired the negatives for more that fifty years.
In 1932, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, Edward Westin, and others, founded Group f/64, which promoted photography and helped to establish photography as an art form. The name of the group, derived from the smallest aperture available on a large format camera, implies images of the greatest depth of focus and sharpest detail. Imogen Cunningham continued to take pictures until shortly before her death at age 93 on June 24, 1976 in San Francisco.