Ralph Steiner (February 8, 1899 – July 13, 1986)

Ralph Steiner was a photographer and filmmaker best known for his experimental films and photographs of the American landscape. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from Dartmouth College in 1921, and studied at the Clarence White School of Photography from 1921 to 1922, where he was introduced to Margaret Bourke-White (American, 1904–1971) and Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946). Early works such as Typewriter Keys (1921) and Always (1921) reveal his interest in graphic patterns, abstract compositions, and advertising, characteristics that he would keep developing throughout his career. Steiner worked as a commercial photographer during the 1920s and 1930s before meeting Paul Strand, whose work inspired him to develop his technique further. While staying at the Yaddo artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1928, he created series of photographs using a 8 x 10 camera of Nehi soda advertisements, Ford cars, and the rural landscape. Steiner’s work in film includes H20, a short silent film of the movement of water, several documentaries, including short films for the Works Progress Administration and the Department of Agriculture, as well as experimental films, such as his The Joy of Seeing which focused on themes like laundry and seaweed. Steiner’s late work depicts the area surrounding his homes in rural Vermont and Maine. His work is currently held in several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA