Marie Cosindas

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Marie Cosindas
Born September 22, 1923
Boston, Massachusetts U.S.
Died May 25, 2017(2017-05-25) (aged 93)
Nationality American
Known for Photography

Marie Cosindas (September 22, 1923 – May 25, 2017) was an American photographer. She was best known for her evocative still lifes and color portraits. She was one of the first photographers to incorporate color photography into her work, which distinguished her from other photographers in the 1960s and 1970s.[1] Most of her photographs were portraits and pictures of objects like dolls, flowers, and masks.

In 1962, Ansel Adams recommended Cosindas to Polaroid for their artist trial of their new instant-developing color film.[2] She was the fifth woman to have a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966.[3]


Cosindas was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 22, 1923, the eighth of ten children born to a Greek immigrant family. Her father was a carpenter. She grew up on the South End.[4]

After initially studying design at the Modern School of Fashion Design in Boston[5] and painting at the Boston Museum School,[6] she worked as a textile designer from 1944 to 1960. During this period she began to integrate with, and eventually became part of the stable of photographers that belonged to the Carl Siembab Gallery, with whom she shared a building in Boston.

It was during a trip to her family's homeland, Greece, that Cosindas began to use photography as her primary medium. Using a 2 1/4 square Rollieflex, Cosindas took snapshots of the Grecian landscape, which she intended to later translate into paintings. However, she was so taken with the photographic results she gave up painting.

Cosindas studied with Paul Caponigro[6] and attended photography workshops with Ansel Adams in 1961. While studying with Ansel Adams, she worked almost exclusively in the medium of black-and-white photography, making several series of still lifes and architectural photographs.[7] She also worked with Minor White during 1963-1964.[6][8]

In 1962, Cosindas was one of about a dozen photographers who were invited by Dr. Edwin Land and the Polaroid Corporation to test their new instant-developing color film. From this time she began to work exclusively in color, manipulating various components of the process to produce the warm tones she preferred. Cosindas found that using Polaroid freed her from all the technicalities involved in making color prints, and she was able to concentrate just on her images. Using only available light and often having only a few minutes in which to photograph her subjects, Cosindas produced a remarkably distinct portfolio of portraits of well-known figures.[9]

Along with Paul Caponigro, William Clift, Walter Chappell and Carl Chiarenza, Cosindas co-founded the Association of Heliographers, a New York photographers' cooperative that included some of the most influential American art photographers of the 1960s. The Heliographers' first public exhibition took place on 1 July 1963. The show promoted "'camera vision' as a way of seeing and recording the world meaningfully rather than mechanically".[10][11]

Using a view camera, natural light and color filters, Cosindas's work played a vital role in establishing the use of color in fine art photography during the 1960s and her solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966 was one of the institution's first to feature color photography.[6][12] A number of major exhibitions of her work have been held, and it is featured in many prominent collections.[13] Subjects of her portraits work include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Faye Dunaway, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Ezra Pound and Tom Wolfe, among others.

Cosindas lectured at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.[14] In conjunction with the PRC 2013 Gala, Cosindas was featured in the exhibition Marie Cosindas: A Life of Color,[15] and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award.[16] Other awards received during her career include a Guggenheim grant, a Rockefeller grant, and honorary degrees from Philadelphia's Moore College of Art and the Art Institute of Boston.[13]

Cosindas died on May 25, 2017, in Boston, at the age of 93.[4]


  • Feldman, Susan, ed. (1979). Marie Cosindas, color photographs (2nd printing, 1979. ed.). Boston: New York Graphic Society. ISBN 9780821207437. With an essay by Tom Wolfe 


  1. ^ Cosindas, Marie (1978). Color Photographs. Boston: New York Graphic Society. 
  2. ^ "Marie Cosindas: Instant Color". Amon Carter Museum of American Art. 
  3. ^ Bonanos, Christopher (January 12, 2014). "The Art World Wakes Up, Once Again, to Marie Cosindas". Vulture. 
  4. ^ a b William Grimes, Marie Cosindas, Whose Photographs Brought Color to the Fore, Dies at 93, New York Times (June 2, 2017).
  5. ^ Heller, Jules; Heller, Nancy G. (1995). North American women artists of the twentieth century : a biographical dictionary. New York: Garland Publishing. ISBN 978-0815325840. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Marie Cosindas: Polaroid Color Photographs" (PDF). The Museum of Modern Art. April 13, 1966. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Wilder, Kelley E. (2006). "Cosindas, Marie (b. 1923)". In Lenman, Robin. The Oxford companion to the photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198662716. 
  8. ^ "Exhibition of photographs from the 1960s-80s by Marie Cosindas opens at Bruce Silverstein Gallery". 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  9. ^ Feldman, Susan, ed. (1979). Marie Cosindas, color photographs (2nd printing, 1979. ed.). Boston: New York Graphic Society. ISBN 9780821207437. 
  10. ^ Loke, Margarett (March 6, 1998). "Photography Review; From a Vanished Cooperative, Nature in Abstract". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Wilder, Kelley E. (2006). "Heliographers, Association of". In Lenman, Robin. The Oxford companion to the photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198662716. 
  12. ^ Salter, Kate (20 April 2014). "The colour photography pioneer that time forgot". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "New York Art Beat". "Portraits by Marie Cosindas" Exhibition Bruce Silverstein / 20. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  14. ^ 2008 PRC benefit auction Catalog: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  15. ^ Weiss, Francine (October 18, 2013). "Photographic Resource Center Boston University" (PDF). Maria Consindas: A Life in Color. Photographic Resource Center Boston University. Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  16. ^ Weiss, Francine. "Marie Cosindas: A Life of Color" (PDF). Boston University. Retrieved 2 February 2016.