The Spider's Web

Anne W. Brigman (American, Honolulu, Hawaii 1869–1950 Eagle Rock, California)
Gelatin silver print
25.0 x 17.2 cm (9 13/16 x 6 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933
Accession Number:
Not on view
Brigman rejected the everyday in favor of the dreamlike. Through her work she created a pantheon of human, plant, and animal hybrids, offering her own interpretation of literary and mythological subjects. This spatially disorientating image of a woman floating almost weightlessly and enveloped in a textured veil probably alludes to Native American legends that view spiders as symbols of female energy—weavers of fate and creation. More specifically, it may reference Iktomi, a spider that the Lakota Sioux believe to be a supernatural spirit that shapeshifts into human form. Brigman’s willingness to go to extreme lengths to explore her art, defy the traditional role of women, and integrate the human body into the landscape led to a revival of interest in her work by practitioners of the feminist and land art movements during the late twentieth century.
Inscription: Signed and dated in ink.
Alfred Stieglitz

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs by Anne W. Brigman," March 24, 1971–April 18, 1971.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe," June 8, 1995–October 15, 1995.

Art Gallery of Windsor. "Anne Brigman," December 18, 2004–February 27, 2005.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographic Treasures from the Collection of Alfred Stieglitz," October 13, 2011–February 26, 2012.

Musée de l'Orangerie. "Qui a peur des femmes photographes? 1839-1945," October 13, 2015–January 25, 2016.

Bruce, Arthur Loring. "A New Classical Note in Photography: With a Series of Recent Camera Studies, Made in California, by Annie W. Brigman." Vanity Fair (June 1914). p. 29.

Naef, Weston J. The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz: Fifty Pioneers of Modern Photography. Studio Book. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978. no. 84.

Théberge, Pierre. Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe. Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1995. ill. 115.

Qui a Peur des Femmes Photographes? 1839–1945. Paris: Musée d'Orsay, 2015. no. 117, p. 121.