Siskind, Aaron

Siskind, Aaron,

1903–91, American photographer, b. New York City. A member of the Photo League in the 1930s, he began as a documentary photographer, creating such series as Dead End: The Bowery and Harlem Document (1932–40). Aiming to make photographs aesthetic objects in their own right, in the early 1940s Siskind began to create the abstract images for which he is now principally known. Shooting at close range, he photographed graffiti, peeling plaster, sections of signs and billboards, road surfaces, and various organic and found objects. Many of his powerful 1950s images clearly relate to the paintings of his abstract-expressionist friends such as KlineKline, Franz,
1910–62, American painter, b. Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He studied (1937–38) in England, then settled in New York City. His first works were representational, often portraying the industrial landscapes of Pennsylvania's coal and steel towns.
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, MotherwellMotherwell, Robert,
1915–91, American painter and writer, b. Aberdeen, Wash. Motherwell taught art at several colleges and during the early 1940s he became a cogent theoretician of abstract expressionism.
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, and de Kooningde Kooning, Willem
, 1904–97, American painter, b. Netherlands; studied Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. De Kooning immigrated to the United States, arriving as a stowaway in 1926 and settling in New York City, where he worked on the Federal Arts Project
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, and he radicalized photography much as those painters revolutionized their medium. Siskind's photographs, even his late series of midair divers, remained essentially abstract for the rest of his career. A very influential teacher, he (and his friend and colleague Harry CallahanCallahan, Harry Morey,
1912–99, American photographer, b. Detroit. Self-taught, he began taking pictures (1938) as a hobby and, inspired by the work of Ansel Adams, began to produce professional-quality photographs in the 1940s.
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) taught at Chicago's Institute of Design (1951–71) and the Rhode Island School of Design (1971–76). His work has been published in a number of books, notably Aaron Siskind, Photographer (1965), Places, 1966–1975 (1976), Aaron Siskind 55 Series (2003), and Aaron Siskind 100 (2003).

Siskind, Aaron

(1903–  ) teacher, photographer; born in New York City. An English teacher, he started taking photographs in 1930, focusing on the textures of everyday objects. He taught photography at the Illinois Institute of Technology (1951–71).