Though he began his career as a documentary photographer, Aaron Siskind turned away from representation and towards abstraction in the 1940s, using his camera to capture the graphic patterns, shapes, and forms he observed around him. By carefully framing his subjects, he would transform strands of seaweed on the sand into calligraphic brushstrokes, peeling paint into low-relief sculptures, or graffiti on a wall into a Franz Kline canvas. Siskind influenced and was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists, his photographs frequently exhibited alongside their paintings.


Born December 4th, New York City.
Educated in New York City at De Witt Clinton High School, and City College, B.S.S. in Literature.
English instructor in New York City public school system.
Married Sidonie Glatter; gets his first camera as a honeymoon gift.
Joined the New York Film and Photo League; buys a Voigtlander Avus.
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.
Published "The Feature Group" in Photo Notes.
Created increasingly symbolic and abstract photographs based on discarded and found objects on Martha's Vineyard and in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Published "The Drama of Objects" in Minicam Photography.
Established close and enduring ties to the artists of the New York School.
Taught photography at Trenton Junior College, Trenton, New Jersey.
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.
Wrote "Credo" as an artist's statement for the symposium What is Modern Photography? organized by Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Taught with Harry Callahan during the summer at Black Mountain College.
At the invitation of Harry Callahan, Siskind joined the faculty of the Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design in 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. Traveled in Greece and Rome.
With Harry Callahan, published "Learning Photography at the Institute of Design," in Aperture.
Horizon Press published his first book, Aaron Siskind: Photographs.
Co-editor of Choice Magazine.
Invited by Nathan Lyons to the inaugural “Invitational Teaching Conference” in Rochester, NY, which became the Society for Photographic Education.
Served as one of the first Directors of the Society for Photographic Education. Board member, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
George Eastman House published his second book, Aaron Siskind: Photographer.
Recipient, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Creative Arts – Photography.
Named Bingham Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of Louisville.
Received the Philadelphia College of Art Gold Star of Merit Award and the Rhode Island Governor's Prize for the Arts.
Founding member of the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester.
Awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Arts from Columbia College in Chicago.
Taught photography at Rhode Island School of Design.
Lectured in Photography at the Carpenter Center of Harvard University.
Received the National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Visual Arts in Photography.
An established master, Siskind continues to make photographs and was published and exhibited widely.
Incorporated the Aaron Siskind Foundation, charged with managing his collection of vintage photographs and supporting contemporary photography with its income.
Funded the Aaron Siskind Center for Photography within the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at Rhode Island College of Design.
Died February 8th, in Providence RI, at 87 years old

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