A master American photographer who pioneered a unique abstract style during the 1940s, Aaron Siskind (1903-1991) was a self-taught maverick whose images reveal the mystery and lyrical beauty intrinsic to even the most ordinary subject matter. A prolific artist whose photographic work spanned seven decades, Siskind garnered critical acclaim for his early documentary projects in the 1930s, notably Harlem Document and Portrait of a Tenement. Siskind’s later work overtly exhibits his attraction to pure form, particularly in the rhythm and happenstance of found marks, textures, shapes and architectural elements. The suite of photographs in this collection attests to the influence of the coterie of New York Abstract Expressionists of which he was a member. During the 1970s and 1980s, when his abstract style reached its fullest expression, he traveled widely, photographing in New York City, Jalapa, Mexico, and in more distant places like Spain, Italy and South America where the synergy of each locale allowed him to negotiate that tenuous space where creativity happens. Though Siskind’s photographs were made of a specific place and time, neither binds them. As abstract expressions, ostensibly documenting particular sites, events or objects, their universality transcends specifics, permitting the artist to “work through a place to another.” With the visual acuity bestowed by experience and insight, Siskind captured the essence of his subject, while alluding to vistas, real or illusory, whose boundaries are limitless and interconnected. The Pitzer College collection of Aaron Siskind works was a gift from Joe d’Angerio, Nancy Foy and Family.
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