Ralph Steiner

(Cleveland, Ohio, 1899 - 1986, Hanover, New Hampshire)

North America, American

Steiner, born to a working class Czech family in Cleveland, attended Dartmouth, where he received a degree in chemical engineering. He studied photography both in college and, after graduating, at the Clarence H. White School of Photography, in New York. Despite White’s own use of Pictorialism’s soft focus, his school was one of the crucibles of modernism in American photography and was largely responsible for its introduction to advertising in the U.S. Steiner supported himself as an advertising photographer for staidly designed publications such as The Ladies’ Home Journal. Nonetheless, in his professional work as well as his personal photographs and films, he experimented with applying avant-garde visual styles to documentary content. Along with Paul Strand, Steiner was one of the founders of New York’s famed Film and Photo League.

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