Galerie Julian Sander is very pleased to present works by Aaron Siskind in the gallery for the first time. A Painter´s Photographer shows photographs of the artist and references the close connection to Abstract Expressionist painting in Siskind´s work.
In an essay from 1951, the artist and art critic Elaine de Kooning described Aaron Siskind as a “painter’s photographer”. After more than 60 years, Siskind remains one of the most closely connected photographers to the abstract expressionist movement of the 20th century. His flat picture planes, the low depth of field and the focus on the surface structure resonate with the gestural paintings by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Siskind also shared an artistic ethos with many of these painters. He emphasized the way his own feelings shaped the image as he made it and became part of the work itself. Siskind inspired numerous painters in the beginnings of the movement in the early 1940s. He is thus rightly counted among the pioneers of abstract expressionism.
Aaron Siskind expanded the expressive potential of photography as much as the definition of abstraction. Through extreme close-up, an unusual angle and the abstraction from the narrative context, known subjects become abstractions, which can be re-experienced.
Siskinds photographs are inventions in the same sense that paintings or other works of visual art are inventions.
Aaron Siskind was born in New York in 1903 as the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. He studied social sciences at the College in New York and taught English at a public school the following 20 years. It was not until 1930 he became a photographer and in 1936 he became active in the New York Photo League– a connection that would last until 1940. In the early 40s, Siskind became friends with Abstract Expressionist painters (Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and others) and focused artistically on symbolic and abstract photography based on a documentary style. Numerous exhibitions at the Charles Egan Gallery between 1947 and 1949 and the growing interest of the museums, made it possible for him to become an artist and a teacher. After an invitation from Harry Callahan, Siskind taught photography at the faculty of Illinois Institute of Technology and Design in Chicago from 1951 to 1971. He then left to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design in the graduate program for five more years. The first publication about his work was published 1959, titled “Aaron Siskind: Photographs”. The artist continued to work on his photography until his death on February 8, 1991.