Timeline of Imogen Cunningham's Life & Work

  • 1883 - 1910

    Self Portrait, 1910

    1883 - 1910

     

    • 1983 - Imogen was born in Portland, Oregon on April 12th, 1983.  Her father named her after the heroine of Shakespeare's Cymbeline.  He encouraged her to read before she entered school and paid for summer art lessons.
    • 1889 - Moves to Seattle, Washington, with her family. Lives at 505 Ward Street until 1909.
    • 1901 - She ordered a camera from a mail-order correspondence school and took her first self-portrait, a nude photograph of herself in a secluded part of the campus. Her father built her a darkroom in the woodshed, a darkroom lit only by a candle in a red box.
    • 1903-07 - She attended the University of Washington in Seattle, majoring in chemistry after she was advised by her professor that she should have a scientific background if she wanted to be a photograph. To pay her expenses she worked as a secretary for her chemistry professor and made slides for the botanists.
    • 1907 - Writes thesis, "The Scientific Development of Photography." After seeing the photographs of Gertrude Käsebier in The Craftsman, she decides to pursue photography as a career. Graduates from University of Washington.                     
    • 1907-09 - After graduation she worked in the Seattle studio of Edward S. Curtis, the photographer who produced the twenty volumes of The North American Indian.  Here she learned the techniques of platinum printing and retouching negatives.
    • 1910 - She opened a portrait studio at 1117 Terry Avenue in Seattle. She was the only photographer  who was a charter member of the Society of Seattle Artists. She frequently exhibited in Seattle, often soft focus photographs of romantic tableaux she and her friends staged.
  • 1911 - 1920

    Self Portrait with Gryff, 1917

    1911 - 1920

     

    • 1913 - She published Photography as a “Profession for Women” in Pi Beta Phi's journal, The Arrow, an article urging women to take up careers in photography and other professions,  not to outdo men, but to try to do something for themselves. She held this view throughout her life. Corresponds with Alvin Langdon Coburn and Clarence White.
    • 1914 - One-person exhibitions at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon. Included in the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography, New York. Illustrated review of her work published in Wilson's Photographic Magazine.
    • 1915 - Marries Roi Partridge on February 11. Son, Gryffyd, born December 18. Two nude male and female studies, Reflections and Eve Repentant, reproduced in the Christmas issue of The Town Crier. Exhibits at Fine Arts Society, Seattle, with Roi Partridge, John Butler, and Clare Shepard. Included in Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco; Pittsburgh Salon of National Photographic Art; and Philadelphia Salon.
    • 1916 - Her nude study of Roi Partridge, The Bather, published in the Christmas issue of The Town Crier, causes sensation.
    • 1917  She closed her studio and moved with Roi to California where their  twin sons, Rondal and Padraic, were born on September 4th.  With three young sons and life as a faculty wife, her photography was largely confined to photographing her children and the plants in her garden.
    • 1918 - Works in San Francisco studio of Francis Bruguière. Meets Maynard Dixon and Dorothea Lange.
    • 1920 - Moves to 4540 Harbor View Drive, Oakland when Roi begins teaching at Mills College. Meets Edward Weston and Johan Hagemeyer.
  • 1921 - 1930

    Self Portrait with Camera, late 1920s

    1921 - 1930

    • 1921 - Resumes commercial portrait business. Photographs Adolph Bolm Ballet Intime. Creates first sharp-focus nature studies at Point Lobos and begins to photograph plant forms.
    • 1922 - Joins the Pictorial Photographers of America.
    • 1923 - Photographs light abstractions and begins series of magnolia studies.
    • 1923  Imogen made her first double exposure photograph, a portrait of her mother with a crown a silver spoons.
    • 1927 - Creates the negative image Snake.
    • 1927 - Included in the Pictorial Photographic Society Exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California.
    • 1929 - Ten of her photographs were exhibited in the prestigious Film und Foto Exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany. She had a local exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum.
  • 1931 - 1940

    Self Portrait 2, 1932

    1931 - 1940

    • 1931 - Photographs Martha Graham in Santa Barbara and Frida Kahlo in San Francisco. Vanity Fair reproduces two of her Graham studies and hires her to photograph Hollywood personalities. One-person exhibition at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco. Exhibits at Julien Levy Gallery, New York.
    • 1932 - Exhibits at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, with Group f.64, a group of friends who have been getting together to discuss photography. Also included in A Showing of Hands at the de Young. One-person exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum. Continues portrait and botanical photography with a growing interest in industrial still lifes and documentary photography.
    • 1933 - One-person exhibition at The Forum, Hotel Oakland, Oakland.
    • 1934 - Included in Leading American Photographers exhibition, Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland. Marriage to Roi Partridge ends in divorce in June. Travels to New York for Vanity Fair. Photographs Alfred Stieglitz and begins documentary street photography. Works with Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor on documentary project in Oroville, California.
    • 1935 - One-person exhibition at the Dallas Art Museum. Photographs Gertrude Stein in San Francisco. Photographs for Cornish School catalogue in Seattle. Her Group f.64 statement published in Camera Craft.
    • 1936  A solo exhibit of her work was held at the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento, California.
    • 1937 - Beaumont Newhall includes her in Photography 1839 - 1937 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 
    • 1938 - Begins photographing with 2 1/4-by-2 1/4-inch format cameras, a Rollieflex Automat.
    • 1940 - Included in A Pageant of Photography, Golden Gate International Exposition, Treasure Island, San Francisco.
    • 1940 - Begins photographing in color for Sunset magazine.
  • 1941 - 1950

    Self Portrait, Mother Lode 2, 1945

    1941 - 1950

    • 1941 - Included in Photographers Exhibition at Mills College, Oakland.
    • 1941 - Her photographs were included in the Photographers Exhibition  at the Golden Gate International Exposition, Treasure Island, San Francisco.
    • 1943 - Moves to 6454 Colby Street, Berkeley, and uses Roger Sturtevant's photographic studio on Montgomery Street in San Francisco.
    • 1947 - She opened her studio at 1331 Green Street. For the next thirteen years her work was exhibited from New York to San Francisco. She continued her street photography and portrait work.  She taught intermittently at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
  • 1951 - 1960

    Self Portrait in the Mother Lode, 1957

    1951 - 1960

    • 1951 - One-person exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Art.
    • 1952 - KRON-TV, San Francisco, produces documentary on Cunningham photographing blind children.
    • 1953 - One-person exhibition at Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland.
    • 1954 - Included in inaugural exhibition at Limelight Gallery, New York, and Perceptions at San Francisco Museum of Art.
    • 1955 - Included in Bay Area Photographers San Francisco Weekend exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Art. Interviewed by Herm Lenz, along with Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, in U. S. Camera article, "Interview with Three Greats."
    • 1956 - One-person exhibitions at Cincinnati Art Museum and at Limelight Gallery, New York. Photographs extensively in New York.
    • 1957 - One-person exhibition at Oakland Art Museum.
    • 1959 - Included in Photography at Mid-Century, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; group exhibition at Oakland Public Museum; and The Photograph as Poetry, Pasadena Art Museum. Edna Tartaul Daniel interviews her for the Regional Oral History Project of the University of California, Berkeley.
    • 1960 - The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York purchased a major retrospective collection of her work. Travels to Berlin, Munich, Paris, and London. Meets August Sander and Paul Strand.
  • 1961 - 1970

    Self Portrait, Mendocino, 1965

    1961 - 1970

    • 1961 - Travels to Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and Paris. Meets Man Ray. One-person exhibition at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. 
    • 1962 - She experimented with Polaroid film.
    • 1964 - One-person exhibitions at Chicago Art Institute and San Francisco Museum of Art. Becomes honorary member of American Society of Magazine Photographers. Experiments with Polaroid film. Aperture devotes its winter issue to her work. The Library of Congress acquires a large collection of her photographs and published a monograph of her work.
    • 1965 - One-person exhibition at Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. Included in Six Photographers 1965at the College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois, Urbana.
    • 1965-67 - Teaches at San Francisco Art Institute.
    • 1967 - Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. One-person exhibition at Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University, California. Appears in James Broughton's film, The Bed.
    • 1968 - Receives honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland. One-person exhibitions at Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Carl Siembab Gallery, Boston; and California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland. Included in North Beach and the Haight-Ashbury exhibition, Focus Gallery, San Francisco. Teaches summer session at Humboldt State College.
    • 1970 - One-person exhibitions at M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, and Witkin Gallery, New York. Receives a Guggenheim Fellowship to print her early negatives. Imogen Cunningham: Photographer filmed by John Korty. University of Washington Press publishes Imogen Cunningham: Photographs. The Smithsonian Institution purchases a major collection of her work. San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto proclaims November 12 "Imogen Cunningham Day." Album magazine publishes a portfolio of her images.
  • 1971 - 1976

    Self Portrait 2, 1974

    1971 - 1976

    • 1971 - One-person exhibitions at Atholl McBean Gallery of the San Francisco Art Institute; 831 Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan; and Seattle Art Museum. Creative Camera publishes a portfolio of her images.
    • 1972 - Included in Group f.64 exhibition at University Art Museum, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. One-person exhibition at Ohio Silver Gallery, Los Angeles.
    • 1973 - Teaches at San Francisco Art Institute. San Francisco Art Commission declares her "Artist of the Year." One-person exhibitions at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Witkin Gallery, New York; and San Francisco Art Commission "Capricorn Asunder" Gallery. Included in International Exhibition of Photography, Arles, France. Images of Imogenexhibition at Focus Gallery, San Francisco. The film Never Give Up: Imogen Cunningham completed by Ann Hershey. Begins portraits for After Ninety, a book on old age.
    • 1973  On her ninetieth birthday the San Francisco Art Commission declared her Artist of the Year. The Metropolitan Museum of New York held an Imogen Cunningham Exhibition.  The Witkin Gallery celebrated her birthday with a second exhibition .
    • 1974 - Receives University of Washington's Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus award. University of Washington Press publishes Imogen! Cunningham donates selected papers to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. One-person exhibitions at Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, and Oakland Museum. Profiled on KRON-TV "30 Minutes Assignment Four" program.
    • 1975 - Creates the Imogen Cunningham Trust on February 14 to continue the preservation, exhibition, and promotion of her work. Camera magazine issues "Homage to Imogen" in October. One-person exhibitions at John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco; Chevron Gallery, San Francisco; and Occidental Center Gallery, Los Angeles. Included in Women of Photography exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Art. Receives honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Mills College, Oakland.
    • 1976 - Appears on Tonight television show with Johnny Carson and is profiled in CBS documentary. One-person exhibitions at Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University; Strybing Arboretum, San Francisco; and Grapestake Gallery, San Francisco. Photographes the last 12 people for her book After Ninety (published in 1977 by the University of Washington Press). Dies on June 23 in San Francisco.
    • 1976 - She died in San Francisco at the age of 93.