Alfred Stieglitz (American, Hoboken, New Jersey 1864–1946 New York)
Gelatin silver print
11.6 x 9.2 cm. (4 9/16 x 3 5/8 in.)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949
Not on view
In the decade leading up to the Great Depression, American modernism was a highly contested concept. Stieglitz, perhaps justifiably, considered himself one of the few qualified to dictate its course, having surrounded himself with a group of like-minded and devoted artists, critics, and writers whom he directed in an almost shamanistic fashion. Spirituality loomed large in his vision of American identity, but he was disheartened and offended with what he viewed as a pent-up, materialist, and culturally bankrupt American way. In a rare attempt at ironic commentary, Stieglitz produced this picture of a harnessed, castrated horse—a pure representation of eradicated sexual prowess and restrained muscular energy—and labeled it Spiritual America. In effect, he suggested that America was lacking in spirit by reinterpreting the horse, a traditional American symbol of unstoppable force, as a trussed-up pattern of slick geometry.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on 2nd mount, verso UL: "A", "1 [in box]", "155C"; inscribed in pencil on 2nd mount, verso LL: "A + 1", "12 [encircled]"; inscribed in pencil on 2nd mount, verso LR: "155C"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs from the Museum's Collection," December 4, 1984–March 17, 1985.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand," November 8, 2010–April 10, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklański Selects from the Met Collection," March 17–June 14, 2015.
Aperture 8, no. 1 (1960). p. 23.
Bry, Doris. Alfred Stieglitz: Photographer. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1965. no. 44.
Greenough, Sarah, and Juan Hamilton. Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs & Writings. 1st ed. Washington, D.C.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. pl. 54.
Greenough, Sarah. Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 2002. no. 889.
New York et l'Art Moderne: Alfred Stieglitz et Son Cercle (1905–1930). Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2004. p. 210.
Uklański, Piotr. Piotr Uklański: Fatal Attraction. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2015. p. 200.