A Commitment to Beauty

by Barbara McCandless


About the Author

Barbara McCandless is Curator of Photographic Collections at the Amon Carter Museum. She is author of Equal Before the Lens: Jno. Trlica's Photographs of Granger, Texas (1992). She is the coauthor of books including Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (1991), New York to Hollywood: The Photography of Karl Struss (1995), An American Collection: Works from the Amon Carter Museum (2001), and Singular Moments: Photographs from the Amon Carter Museum.


Amon Carter Museum's Photography Collection

The Amon Carter Museum holds one of the country's major collections of American photography and has held numerous exhibitions on the subject. For a description of the collection please see the Museum's Photography web page which describes Struss, among other key photographers in collection, as follows:

Karl Struss (1886-1981), one of the leading pictorial photographers of the pre-World War I era, is represented in the collection with 300 prints and 5,000 negatives. His reputation was established when Alfred Stieglitz selected his work for the 1910 International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography and then published a portfolio in Camera Work in 1912. In 1909 Struss invented the Struss Pictorial Lens, a soft-focus lens that proved immensely popular with other photographers of the period, including Laura Gilpin. After studying with Clarence White, Struss took over his studio in 1914 and specialized in portraiture, advertising, and magazine illustration. Five years later he moved to Hollywood and became Cecil B. DeMille's still-cameraman. Struss soon turned from still photography to cinematography, filming such works as Ben Hur (1925) and Sunrise (1927), for which he received the first Academy Award for cinematography.


Resource Library editor's note:

This essay was rekeyed and reprinted on February 15, 2005 in Resource Library with permission of the Amon Carter Museum. The essay, written in 1995, was excerpted from the 256 page illustrated catalogue for the exhibition New York to Hollywood: Photographs by Karl Struss, (ISBN #0826316387) held at the Amon Carter Museum. The book was co-published by the Amon Carter Museum and the University of New Mexico Press. Images accompanying the text in the exhibition catalogue were not reproduced with this reprinting. (right: front cover of New York to Hollywood: Photographs by Karl Struss. Courtesy of Amazon.com.)

Amazon.com's editorial review provides this description of the book:

Struss (1886-1981) was that rara avis who mastered both still photography and cinematography. Best known for his stunning camera work on F.W. Murnau's Sunrise -- for which he shared the first Academy Award for cinematography in 1927 -- Struss was a member of Photo-Secession, an organization co-founded by Alfred Stieglitz devoted to the promotion of photography as a fine art. While Koszarski discusses Struss' contributions to the cinema, the focus of this retrospective is the artist's earlier New York pictorial work; the book is handsomely illustrated with black and white images from Struss' oeuvre, as well as his striking 1910-17 experiments in color.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Mariam Hermann and Paula Stewart of the Amon Carter Museum for their help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text

Readers may also enjoy photos of Lucerne provided by a TFAO volunteer.

If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, or if you have interest in obtaining a copy of the exhibition catalogue, please contact Amon Carter Museum through either this phone number or web address:




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