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Aaron Siskind (1903 - 1991)

Lot 46: Aaron Siskind 1903-1991 , ironwork, new york city (single vertical bar)


October 16, 2007
New York, NY, US

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flush-mounted to thick board, mounted again to a white-painted wood board, framed, 1947


measurements note 9 1/4 by 7 3/8 in. (23.5 by 18.7 cm.)


New York, Egan Gallery, Aaron Siskind: 30 Recent Photographs , 1947


Another print of this image: Jan Howard, Interior Drama: Aaron Siskind's Photographs of the 1940s (Rhode Island School of Design, 2003), p. 56


Christie's New York, 5 October 1999, Sale 9298, Lot 338Acquired by Nancy Richardson from the above


The photographs in this and the following lot were exhibited in Siskind's first one-man show, Aaron Siskind: Recent Photographs, at the pioneering Egan Gallery in New York City in 1947. Operated by Charles Egan, the gallery was one of the first venues to exhibit the work of the most adventurous New York artists of the day, including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Isamu Noguchi, Joseph Cornell, and many others. Siskind was introduced to Egan by his friend, the painter Barnett Newman. Egan, impressed by the work Siskind showed him, agreed to give him an exhibition, which was to be the first showing of photography at the gallery. Egan would go on to show Siskind's work in four subsequent exhibitions through 1954. Siskind took up photography at the age of 26, and initially worked in the documentary mode. In the 1930s, he became involved with the Photo League, the pre-eminent organization of socially-committed photographers in New York City. In the 1940s, however, Siskind's gradual shift away from a straightforward documentary style strained his relationship with the Photo League, and ultimately led to his departure from the group. By the middle of the 1940s, Siskind found new acceptance within the circle of artists that came to be known as the Abstract Expressionists. Living in Greenwich Village, and working as a school teacher, Siskind was a regular participant at the boisterous gatherings at the Cedar Bar and the Waldorf Cafeteria that included the artists Newman, de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock. While these artists were redefining painting, Siskind was staging a quieter, but no less important, redefinition of his own medium. In preparation for the Egan exhibition, Siskind mounted his photographs onto thick Masonite, a treatment which gave them a 3-dimensional presence on the wall not typically associated with photography. Both the print offered here and Ironwork, New York City (two vertical bars) (Lot 47) were placed on a secondary white-painted wood mount, which served to increase their presence on the wall and provide a contrasting background for the photographs.

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