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As an influential style, Pictorialism faded after 1920, being superceded by the new idiom of photographic Modernism, as the public began to prefer more sharply-focused images.

Despite the disappointment of Pictorialism, photography gained in artistic status from its new sharper-focus, due to the evocative landscape photography of Edward Weston (1886-1958) and Ansel Adams (1902-84), as well as the Precisionism of Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), which he explored in his famous series of photographs of the Ford Motor Co's River Rouge Car Plant in Michigan, and the Cubist-inspired works of Paul Strand (1890-1976).

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In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer (1813-57) announced the findings of his research into the wet plate collodion process, which significantly improved the accessibility of photography for the public, as did the American innovator George Eastman's 1884 introduction of roll film as a replacement for photographic plates.

In 1908, the French scientist Gabriel Lippmann (1845-1921) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his improvements in photographic colour reproduction.

Both were instrumental in helping to make photography a fine art, and Stieglitz in particular (and also his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe) was responsible for introducing it into museum collections.

A landmark event occurred in 1902, with Stieglitz's formation in America of Photo-Secession, an association of creative photographers, and the publication of its magazine Camera Work (1902-17), which rapidly became a forum for modern art of all types.

Photography evolved from the camera obscura, an instrument that projected an image through a small hole, allowing the artist to make an accurate tracing of an object or scene.

The first mention of its use as a drawing aid appeared in Magia Naturalis, a scientific treatise by the Italian scientist Giambattista della Porta.

Many Old Masters from the 17th and 18th century, including Jan Vermeer (1632-75), and Canaletto (1697-1768), are believed to have used it in their sketching.

With the spread of camera-photography from 1840 onwards, the use of photos became common in the production of both portrait art as well as landscape painting.

Other important technical advances in the history of photography, included the following.

Photoetching was invented in 1822-5 by the Frenchman Joseph Niepce (1765-1833), who also made the first photograph from nature in 1826.

In 1905, Stieglitz and Steichen founded the "291" gallery in New York, a venue specializing in avant-garde art, notably photographs, paintings and sculptures.