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Aaron Siskind

(New York City, 1903 - 1991)

North America, American

Aaron Siskind’s exploration of texture and two-dimensional surface makes him one of the most innovative photographers of the 1950s and 1960s. Educated at the College of the City of New York, Siskind graduated in 1926 with a Bachelor of Social Sciences and began teaching English in the New York City public school system. In 1932, only two years after he received his first camera as a gift, Siskind joined the New York Photo League as a documentary photographer. From 1936 to 1940, Siskind oversaw the creation of a series of documentary photo-essays for the New York Photo League’s Feature Group.
In 1940, Siskind befriended a number of Abstract Expressionist painters (including Mark Rothko and Franz Kline) and began to shift his focus from documentary to abstract images. In 1947, Siskind began a series of four important solo exhibits at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York City. Siskind began teaching at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1951; ten years later he replaced Harry Callahan as the head of the photography department. In 1966, he won a Guggenheim fellowship, which he used to travel to Rome, Italy. Siskind became Professor of Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1971, from which he retired in 1976.

Rhode Island

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