|Dates: ||1892 - 1950|
Approved biography for Edward K. Alenius
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)
Alenius practiced pictorial photography from the late 1920s through the 1940s. He championed manipulative printing processes and photographed primarily the environs of New York, where he lived.
Edward K. Alenius was born in Finland on February 9, 1892. He trained there in electrical engineering and in 1923 immigrated to the United States. By 1934 he was an electrical engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he also supervised the artwork for Bell System instruction manuals.
Alenius was drawn to pictorial photography when he was in his mid-thirties and actively pursued it to the time of his death at age fifty-eight. He initially entered a photography contest at the Bell company in about 1928 and soon taught himself the manipulative processes of bromoil and carbro. He regularly exhibited his work in photographic salons; in the 1934-35 season he was the world’s most prolific exhibitor, with 342 prints in seventy salons. Alenius photographed Central Park and a variety of other New York subjects, most of which he rendered in the typical romantic style of pictorialism. His more modernist image Stainless Steel appeared in a 1941 magazine advertisement for Kodak film.
Alenius freely shared his photographic expertise with others. For the December 1934 issue of American Photography he wrote an article on the Fresson process, a subject he also taught at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. He lectured and gave demonstrations to numerous camera clubs in the Northeast. In 1939, he led a six-week photographic tour of seven European countries. During the 1930s and 1940s, he served as president of the Telephone Camera Club of Manhattan, the Jamaica Camera Club, and the Metropolitan Camera Club Council of New York.
Alenius received photographic honors befitting his stature. In the 1930s, his work was featured in one-person exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution and the Boston Camera Club. He received fellowship status from England’s Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) in 1936, and the Photographic Society of America (FPSA) in 1940.
In about 1940, Alenius moved from Jamaica, New York, to Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He died there in an auto accident on August 14, 1950.
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 1 June 2013.
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