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The City of Ambition

Alfred Stieglitz, American, 1864 - 1946

Photograph taken in New York, New York, United States, North and Central America

1910 (negative); c. 1930 (print)

Gelatin silver print

Image/Sheet/Mount: 4 3/16 × 3 3/8 inches (10.7 × 8.6 cm) Mount (secondary): 12 3/16 × 9 9/16 inches (31 × 24.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    In The City of Ambition, the newly built skyscrapers of New York rise above the harbor like the topmost sails of the clipper ships with which they were compared. For Alfred Stieglitz, skyscrapers were symbols of both the physical magnificence of the city and what he disparaged as the immoderate human ambition responsible for their creation. Yet while others focused their cameras downward into the shadowy chasms of New York's streets, he invariably focused upward toward the sky as a reminder of the transcendence of art over mundane life and human shortcomings. Stieglitz, who is known as the most influential champion of photography as fine art, was also a tireless supporter of American artists, such as John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe, his wife, and one of the first advocates in the United States for modern European art. His personal collection of modern American and European art was exhibited at this Museum in 1944. After his death, the Museum was one of the five recipients of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, which included an important group of his own remarkable photographs, such as the image shown here. Martha Chahroudi, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 234.

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