Oh come now! Just take something obvious like early Steichen.
He was insanely talented.
You can probably discuss whether he brought pictorial art as such much forward, or if some of his work bordered on pandering kitsch.
But you can’t discuss whether the majority of his work was essentially beautiful and had appeal.
And he always brought something extra, something special to his work.
It was never obvious or naive.
He also brought darkroom work forward by leaps and bounds. Both in kinds of techniques and degree of excellence.
Just take this, incidentally the second most expensive photograph ever sold.
View attachment 332964
Mortensen in comparison was just incompetent and way too late to the party.
He was not the unsung and repressed genius some people are trying to make him into.