Monday, 7 October 2013

Urban Drifter - Aaron Siskind

Born in New York in 1903 Aaron Siskind attended the College of the City of New York where he first discovered his love for art. He graduated in 1926 and began teaching in the New York public schools. His interest in photography began in the 1930s when he was fascinated by some photographs by members of the Film and Photo League, a group of photographers and film-makers devoted to social change. He joined the group and by 1932 Siskind was an active member and was involved in producing several photojournalistic-series. In 1941 Siskind documented the community of the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. Although some of his photographs were made in a traditional documentary manner, Siskind primarily did a study of the community's architecture. Some members of the League denounced the work saying Siskind "had turned his back on the social problems of man, and devoted his attention to a document which revealed concern for formal beauty". Siskind soon left the League and for the first time found himself working without a plan. In 1943 he returned to Martha's Vineyard and turned his camera to the scattered seaweed he saw on the beach. He studied line and form and began creating photographs with a flat abstract plane, stating "subject matter as such ceased to be of prime importance". Siskind began concentrating on abstract form and textured surfaces. He once stated, "first and emphatically, I accept the flat picture surface as the primary frame of reference of the picture. The experience itself may be described as one of total absorption in the object." Siskind took ordinary everyday things and transformed them into abstract works of art using light and shadow, angle and composition. Whether it be paint peeling on a wall, graffiti scrawled across a fence, or a deteriorating section of a forgotten structure, Siskind's images are one of pure abstract beauty. Read more about Aaron Siskind at

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