Biography | Bibliography
Käsebier (1852–1934) was one of the most influential American photographers of the early 20th century. She was known for her evocative images of motherhood, her powerful portraits of Native Americans and her promotion of photography as a career for women.
Käsebier was born Gertrude Stanton on 18 May 1852 in Fort Des Moines (now Des Moines). Her father, John W. Stanton, transported a saw mill to Golden, Colorado at the start of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1859, and he prospered from the building boom that followed. In 1860 eight-year-old Stanton traveled with her mother and younger brother to join her father in Colorado. That same year her father was elected the first mayor of Golden, which was then the capital of the Colorado Territory.
Kasebier, while studying painting in her late thirties, shifted her interests to photography. With a minimum of professional training, she decided to become a portrait photographer and opened a studio in 1897. Success came very quickly and she was recognized as a major talent by Alfred Stieglitz who brought her into the Photo-Secessionist group and reproduced a number of her photographs in the first issue of Camera Work. Kasebier, was well known for her work in portraits, employing relaxed poses in natural light. She emphasized the play of light and dark, and allowed the sitter to fill the frame so little room was left in the edges of the photograph.
In addition, Kasebier was very creative and talented in the printing process. Her background in painting gave her the ablility to manipulate the surface of her photographs producing beautiful images that often have a painterly quality. The University Gallery at the University of Delaware is the repository of the largest collegiate collection of Kasebier photographs. Barbara Michaels wrote a book on Kasebier in 1992 entitled, Gertrude Kasebier: The Photographer and Her Photographs.
Gretchen Garner, Art Journal, 51:4 (winter 1992). Gertrude Kasebier and Helen Levitt p. Michelle Delaney, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Warrior: A Photographic History by Gertrude Kasebier, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2007
William Innes Homer, A Pictorial Heritage: The Photographs of Gertrude Kasebier, WIlmington: Delaware Art Museum, 1979.
Barbara L. Michaels, Image vol 19 no. 2. photocopy of article, Rediscovering Gertrude Kasebier pp. 20-31, , Summer 1976.
Barbara L. Michaels, Gertrude Kasebier: The Photographer and Her Photographs, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1992.