The photographer Majorie Content (1895-1984) was a mild and unpretentious woman who kept her work mostly to herself. She rarely published and never exhibited her work. Among her close friends were several famous artists, such as Alfred Steigliz, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe, the playwright Maxwell Anderson and the novelist Kay Boyle. Although she never referred to herself as an artist, she worked constantly as a photographer for fifteen years, unbeknownst to most of her artist friends.
For much of her life she was a muse and source of encouragement to others, including her fourth husband, writer Jean Toomer, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Jill Quasha was fascinated by Content’s work, and in this beautiful volume she presents both photographs and biographical and critical essays by three separate authors. In its pages, we see her small, lyrical shots: views of Washington Square from above that emphasise structure and form; portraits, nudes and still lives that emphasise the poetry of light on surfaces; panoramas of the West and still life studies that achieve abstraction, far in advance of what was to come in American art at the time; and a series of moving portraits and groups of Native Americans from New Mexico and Arizona – all expressions of Marjorie Content’s calm, contemplative soul.
The discovery of these photographs not only adds significantly to our knowledge of the poetic capabilities of photography, but is clear evidence that an artist can work with ambition and success despite a lack of encouragement and recognition throughout her life.
Published by W.W. Norton & Co., 1994
17 × 23.5 cm
Over 100 b/w photographs