Aaron Siskind

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Aaron Siskind
Portrait of Aaron Siskind by Harry Callahan.jpg
Siskind, circa 1950
BornDecember 4, 1903
New York City, New York
DiedFebruary 8, 1991(1991-02-08) (aged 87)
Known forPhotography

Aaron Siskind (December 4, 1903 – February 8, 1991) was an American photographer. He is considered one of the greatest artists in photography, and was closely involved with, if not a part of, the abstract expressionist movement.[1]

Siskind was a grade school English teacher in the New York Public School System for 25 years, and began photography when he received a camera as a wedding gift and began taking pictures on his honeymoon. Early in his career Siskind was a member of the New York Photo League, where he produced several significant socially conscious series of images in the 1930s, among them "Harlem Document".

Siskind's work focuses on the details of things, presented as flat surfaces to create a new image independent of the original subject, creating sublime works unique to art.


Born in New York City, Siskind grew up on the Lower East Side. Shortly after graduating from City College, he became a public school English teacher. In 1950 Siskind met Harry Callahan when both were teaching at Black Mountain College in the summer. Later, Callahan persuaded Siskind to join him as part of the faculty of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago (founded by László Moholy-Nagy as the New Bauhaus). In 1971 he followed Callahan (who had left in 1961) by his invitation to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design, until both retired in the late 1970s. Siskind's monumental work includes works done in Rome in 1963 and 1967, Mexico in the 1970s, and in the 1980s works such as the Tar Series in Providence, Vermont, and Route 88 near Westport, Rhode Island. He continued making photographs until his death on February 8, 1991.


  • Bucks County: Photographs of Early Architecture. Horizon, 1974. ISBN 9780818014161.
  • Places: Aaron Siskind Photographs. Aaron Siskind and Thomas B. Hess. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976. ISBN 9780374232054.
  • Harlem Document Photographs 1932 1940: Aaron Siskind. Matrix, 1981. ISBN 978-0936554075.
  • Road Trip: Photographs 1980-1988 (Untitled 49). Friends of Photography, 1989. ISBN 9780933286535.
  • Harlem Photographs 1932-1940. Smithsonian, 1990. ISBN 9781560980414.
  • Aaron Siskind 100. powerHouse Books, 2003. ISBN 9781576871942.


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