Gertrude Kasebier took on photography after having studied at the Pratt Institute in New York. A rare female practitioner, she was eager to become a professional photographer. “I earnestly advise women of artistic tastes to train for the unworked field of modern photography. It seems to be especially adapted to them, and the few who have entered it, are meeting a gratifying and profitable success.”
Kasebier became renown for her tender imagery of mothers and children while she dedicated a project to the Sioux Indians she discovered as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West troupe paraded in the streets of New York, in 1898. Unlike many other photographers interested in Native American at the time, she sincerely portrayed her subjects, just like any other sitters, leaving aside the clichéd accessories that attracted a voyeuristic public.
In 1902, she became a member of Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secession that opened the doors of famous models such as Auguste Rodin. Yet after her husband’s death, in 1910, she supported her family with sales of her photographs and thus privileged a commercial interest in her practice that led to falling out with Alfred Sieglitz. A leading woman photographer, Gertrude Kasebier emphasized the pictorialist movement while she favored simple mise-en-scènes that revealed her sitters’ inner emotions and sensitivity.