Gertrude Käsebier, Photographer: The New Woman in Black and White

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Margaret D. Stetz


This essay makes a case for remembering and celebrating the advances in the art of photography and in social attitudes alike that were made by Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934). Although she was forgotten by the time of her death, and her body of work is still underappreciated today, she was an innovative and important artist whose representations of women in particular were groundbreaking – never more so than in a self-portrait published in 1900 in Alfred Stieglitz’s magazine, Camera Notes. There she created an image that looked ahead in both its technique and its unsparing self-representation to the art of modernist figures such as the painter Frida Kahlo, as well as the photographer Lee Miller. Käsebier’s powers of intense observation, along with her readiness to empathize across the lines of race and class, may owe something to her lifelong struggles with hearing loss. As a turn-of-the-century woman photographer and, moreover, as one with a disability, Käsebier lived and worked in ways greatly ahead of her time.

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Stetz, M. D. (2020). Gertrude Käsebier, Photographer: The New Woman in Black and White. Humanities Bulletin, 3(2), 225–236. Retrieved from

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