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Aaron Siskind

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Aaron Siskind was an influential teacher, editor and photographer best known for his innovations in abstract photography. Siskind's development as a photographer paralleled the development of the Abstract Expressionist painters.

Born in New York's Lower East Side in 1903, Siskind spent his formative years in search of a medium with which to express and develop his ideas: first social reform, then music, literature and poetry. His search ended when he received a camera as a wedding gift in 1930. His early images include the series "Harlem Document". In the forties his imagery shifted from subject and description to symbol and form. Over the next decades his photographs--primarily surfaces or objects abstracted from their normal context--came to represent the emotional tensions, enigmas, contradictions and joys of living.

Siskind's development as a photographer paralleled the development of the Abstract Expressionist painters, many of whom were close friends. With his passion for abstraction, Siskind was one of the first photographers to have distilled such a great number of exquisite images from the commonplace. Siskind saw a "concrete, specific form with a character that is special" in his subjects, and, through photography, he isolated these characters from the real world and presented them to the viewer as abstractions.

Aaron Siskind continued to teach throughout his career. He taught in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Kentucky, Minnesota and Rhode Island. The most significant period of his artistic career was during his 19 years at the Institute of Design in Chicago.

Siskind's work was exhibited and published as early as 1941. It has been shown and collected by numerous private and public establishments including: The Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work continues to be widely collected by individuals and leading museums worldwide. Aaron Siskind's contribution to the art world distinguishes him as a colossal figure in the history of American photography.