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Aaron Siskind (born December 4, 1903, New York, New York, U.S. died February 8, 1991, Providence, Rhode Island) was an American abstract expressionist photographer. In his biography he wrote that he began his foray into photography when he received a camera for a wedding gift and began taking pictures on his honeymoon. He quickly realized the artistic potential this offered. He worked in both New York City and Chicago. Siskind's work focuses on the details of nature and architecture. He presents them as flat surfaces to create a new image out of them, which, he claimed, stands independent of the original subject. Early in his career Siskind was a member of the New York Photo League. Working with that group, Siskind produced several significant socially conscious series of images in the 1930s. Among them the "Harlem Document" remains the most famous. He originally was a grade school English teacher in the New York Public School System. In 1950 Siskind met Harry Callahan when both were teaching at Black Mountain College in the summer. Later, Callahan persuaded Siskind to join him as part of the faculty of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago (founded by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy as the New Bauhaus). In 1971 he followed Callahan (who had left in 1961) to teach for the rest of his life at the Rhode Island School of Design. A major character in the film One Hour Photo (about a disturbed photograph developer who stalks what he sees as the perfect family) is named after Siskind. The character of Mr. Siskind is not the main (psychologically disturbed) character, nor is the film in any way modeled after the life and works of Aaron Siskind. Chronology 1991 Died in Providence RI, February 8, 1991 at 87 years old. 1984 Incorporated an eponymous foundation that is set up to inherit his vintage photographs, the income from which he mandates be used in support of contemporary photography. 1971–1991 An established master, Siskind continues to make photographs and was published and exhibited widely. 1971–1976 Taught photography with Harry Callahan at Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. 1969 Founding member of the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester. 1966–1983 Receives numerous awards including: Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Gold Star of Merit award from Philadelphia College of Art, an NEA grant, and the Governor's Prize for the Arts, Rhode Island. 1963–1964 Founder-member of the Society for Photographic Education. Board member, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Chicago. 1960–1970 Co-editor of Choice Magazine. 1959 Publication of his first book. 1956 With Harry Callahan, published "Learning Photography at the Institute of Design", in Aperture. 1951–1971 At the invitation of Harry Callahan, Siskind joined the faculty of the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. He was Professor of Photography until 1959, when he became Director of the Photographic Department. He led and participated in advanced student projects including: Apartment interiors of the Mies van der Rohe Lake Shore Drive Skyscrapers, A Chicago Settlement House, The Chicago Housing Authority, The Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan (also called the Louis Sullivan project), Details of the Human Body, The Park System of Chicago, and The Series Form. Travels in Greece and Rome. 1951 Taught with Harry Callahan during the summer at Black Mountain College. 1950 Wrote "Credo" as an artist's statement for a symposium titled "What is Modern Photography?", organized by Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. 1947–1951 Exhibited regularly at Charles Egan Gallery. Elaine de Kooning wrote "The Photographs of Aaron Siskind" as the introduction to a * 1951 exhibition of Siskind's photographs at the gallery. 1947–1949 Taught photography at Trenton Junior College, Trenton, New Jersey. 1945 Published "The Drama of Objects" in Minicam Photography. Established close and enduring ties to the artists of the New York School. 1943–1944 Created increasingly symbolic and abstract photographs based on discarded and found objects on Martha's Vineyard and in Gloucester, Massachusetts. 1940 Published "The Feature Group" in Photo Notes. 1936–1941 Active in the reorganized New York Photo League. Established the Feature Group, a documentary production unit, as part of the Photo League School. Produced group and Independent photo-series including: The Catholic Worker Movement; Dead End: The Bowery; The End of City Repertory Theatre; The Harlem Document; Lost Generation: The Plight of Youth Today; The Most Crowded Block in the World; Park Avenue: North and South; Sixteenth Street: A Cross-section of New York; and Tabernacle City. 1932–1935 Active in the New York Workers' Film and Photo League. Buys a Voigtlander Avus. 1926–1947 English instructor in New York City public school system. 1929 Marries Sidonie Glaller; gets his first camera as a honeymoon gift. 1915–1926 Educated in New York City at De Witt Clinton High School, and City College, B.S.S. in Literature. 1903 Born December 4, New York City. References Rosenblum, Harold. Siskind, Photographs. Horizon, 1959.. Rhem, James. Aaron Siskind. Phaidon, 2003. Aaron Siskind Foundation External links Bruce Silverstein Gallery Marika Herskovic, New York School Abstract Expressionists Artists Choice by Artists, (New York School Press, 2000.) ISBN 0-9677994-0-6 Persondata Name Siskind, Aaron Alternative names Short description Date of birth Place of birth Date of death Place of death