Landscape photography has to deal with the earth and the sky. Some photographers do not hesitate to give an important place to the clouds, making them as central as mountains or plains in their compositions. To a certain degree, this space out of reach, is just like the West, a space to be explored and conquered. American inventors, especially the WRIGHT brothers (pioneers of aviation), were among the most important contributors to that conquest. This begins with aviation, then, from the 1960s, with the race to space, which the United States emerged victorious. The sky can therefore be transformed into an American landscape, while being, more generally, the natural extension of any landscape. Remember that in the arts, the sky has often been a space of projection. People contemplate it and its compositional elements. It can be clouds in René MAGRITTE (1898-1967) paintings or the Moon for the romantic painters.
Alfred STIEGLITZ (1864-1946) founded in 1902, with Edward STEICHEN (1879-1973), Clarence H. WHITE (1871-1925) and Alvin Langdon COBURN (1882-1966), the Photo Secession, a photographic movement close to pictorialism. One of the main ambitions is to elevate photography to the rank of art. From the 1910s, Alfred STIEGLITZ defended the approach of the Straight Photography, where any manipulation of the negative or the print is proscribed. The emphasis is on a clear, precise and realistic rendering of the photographs. It is these principles that will eventually be erected into rules some time later by Ansel ADAMS and the f/64 group.
In 1923 Alfred STIEGLITZ started one of his most innovative series: "Equivalents". He wants to transcribe his emotions by photographing cloud structures. Photography tends to abstraction, revealing the state of mind of the artist. STIEGLITZ wanted the photos in this series to work like music pieces, without figurative forms and yet able to evoke a range of feelings.
Minor WHITE (1908-1976) is perceived as an heir of Straight Photography, defended by his elders: Edward WESTON and Ansel ADAMS to name a few. However, Minor WHITE evolves in the post-war period. While the previous generation was the wardens of modernism, Minor WHITE was led to develop another approach because the war pushed to "reevaluate the myth of modernity". Behind a certain orthodoxy of the technique, always answering the criteria of the Straight Photography, he explores cross roads.
Minor WHITE, like Alfred STIEGLITZ, believes in the metaphorical dimension of photography and in his ability to convey the interiority of the author. One of the artist’s injunctions was to "look at things to see what they are like". There is in Minor WHITE’s landscapes this quasi-mystical dimension. He uses infrared films to create several landscapes, symbolically illustrating the idea of looking beyond what is represented.
Mitch DOBROWNER also looked up at the sky. He perceives storms as living organisms. For him, storms have characters of their own. He has devoted a specific place to them since 2008. All photographs of Mitch DOBROWNER’s skies are not violent. Some are heavy, we feel all the gravity of the storm, and others are taken towards the end of the phenomenon, to open the image on a sky where the sun’s rays begin to pierce. He does not hesitate to use infrared to restitute to the viewers the impression of awe he felt, just like Minor WHITE, a photographer he quotes among the masters who led him to explore this very medium: photography.