Aaron Siskind (1903-1991), teacher, journalist and photographer, was an artist of great originality, unprecedented in American photography. This has tended to result in his work being misinterpreted, balanced as it is between the influences of Walker Evans and Moholy Nagy. It ranges from the early documentary realism of the 1930s to the experimental and difficult abstract work of the 1950s. In this handsomely illustrated book, the authors examine the artist's journey from one aesthetic to another, situating the work of the 1930s in the context of the Great Depression and the politicised Photo League, through to the 1940s and Siskind's attraction to vernacular and architectural photography. They explore his trajectory, while teaching at the New Bauhaus in Chicago (Institute of Design), then at the Rhode Island School of Design, towards a photography of controlled abstraction ultimately rooted in a photorealism that he never repudiated but utilised as a different way of photographing.
This detailed study, drawing on the Aaron Siskind archives housed at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, offers a much-needed account of the work of one of the most challenging figures in American photography.