Frank Eugene

(1865 - 1936) German (b. United States)


Born in New York, Frank Eugene spent most of his life in Germany, where he was an important figure in avant-garde photography and photographic education. He traveled to Germany for the first time in 1886 to attend the Bavarian Academy of Graphic Arts in Munich, and upon his return to New York in 1894, he studied photography and worked as a stage designer and portraitist. His strong painting background, combined with his expertise in etching and his affinity for Jugendstil, resulted in photographs with heavily manipulated surfaces and a hand-made sensibility. His Pictorialist works warranted his election to the Linked Ring Brotherhood in London in 1900 and recommended his work to Alfred Stieglitz, who in 1902 invited Eugene to be a founder-member of the Photo-Secession. Eugene established himself in Munich that same year, and was active in avant-garde photography organizations. In 1905 he joined the International Association of Art Photographers and three years later resigned from the Linked Ring. Eugene devoted the majority of his time to serving as a photographic educator in Germany, first in Munich and then in Leipzig.
Frank Eugene was significant in the Pictorialist movement of the early 1900s; his pictures helped fortify the connection between painting and photography that led to the acceptance of photography as a fine art. His facility with painting, etching, and such photographic techniques as the gum bichromate and autochrome processes have distinguished him as an accomplished practitioner of early-twentieth-century photography.
Lisa Hostetler

Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 215.
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