Jeff Wall (b.
1946). Canadian artist, who in the 1970s, began to take staged scenes of
everyday life, often in large scale prints that were modeled on famous images
in art history. Wall’s staged tableaux appear literal, but feature some excess
or improbability that undermines the realism of the scene and pushes it into
theatricality. Since the 1990s he has used digital technology to create blended
photo-montages that juxtapose images at different scales.
Andy Warhol (19281987).
As one of the leading cultural innovators of the late twentieth century, Warhol
worked in a variety of mediafrom painting and silk screen to sculpture and cinema.
Found photographsfrom news media or celebrity portraitswere often the
foundation of his work. As photographer, Warhol most notably took Polaroid
images that presented the facades of his personalityvapidity, innocence,
defiance, and morbidity.
Augustus Washington (1820/211875).
Early African American photographer, born in Trenton, NJ, Washington left
Dartmouth University in debt and opened a Daguerreotype studio in Hartford, CT.
His portrait of John Brown, revolutionary abolitionist (1847), raising hand, is
his most celebrated work. Washington settled in Liberia in 1852.
Carleton Watkins (18291916).
Operated a San Francisco studio in the 1860s and 1870s. Watkins produced some
of the earliest photographs of Yosemite in large format (“mammoth” size). He
also photographed the construction of the Central Pacific railroad line.
Weegee (b. Arthur
Fellig, 18991968). Born in Ukraine, Fellig emigrated to the United States in
1909. He worked for Acme Newspictures and in 1935, he began his career as a
news photographer specializing in scenes of urban violence, fires, accidents,
and anything of human interest. Fellig created his professional identity as
Weegee, the quintessential photojournalist, master of the hard-boiled yet
emotionally wrought sensationalism so popular in tabloid journalism of the
1930s and 1940s.
Mae Weems (b. 1953). Weems came into photography from a background in
modern dance, music, and fine arts. Her work became known in the 1980s and used
staged scenes to depict black family life with an edge of humor and irony that
played off of racial stereotypes. Her later work has explored African American
culture through memory, historical narrative, and storytelling. A major
retrospective of Weems was held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2014).
Edward Weston (18861958).
Fascinated by photography at an early age, Weston left Chicago and moved to
California, set up a studio, and achieved success as portrait artist in soft-focus
Pictorialist mode. Seeing the new work by Stieglitz, he traveled East,
abandoned Pictorialism for hard-focus, won Stieglitz’s approval, and moved to
Mexico. He lived in Mexico from 1923 to 1927, amidst the ferment of the political
and cultural avant-garde. Weston returned to California (Carmel) in 1927. Taken
with a large view camera, his portraits, nudes, seascapes, and still-lives have
a sensuous quality and formal elegance, together with extreme rendering of
Clarence White (18711925).
Coming from Ohio, White became intrigued by photography at the 1893 Chicago World’s
Columbian Exposition, becoming an early master of Pictorialist photography and creating
luminous prints with subjects drawn from family life, the parlor, small town
life, and gentle pastoral scenes. He moved to New York in 1906 and joined the
circle around Alfred Stieglitz. He came to reject Stieglitz’s narrower view of
aesthetic photography and broke with Stieglitz in 1912. He eventually opened a
photography school in 1914, the first such school in the United States, alumni include
Paul Outerbridge and Anton Bruehl. White also attracted and encouraged a great
many women photographers, including Doris Ullman and Margaret Bourke-White.
White was famously undogmatic, encouraging a wide range of practice among his
photographers, including commercial photography and photojournalism. In 1916,
White founded, along with Gertrude Käsebier and Karl Struss, the Pictorial
Photographers of America, which advocated a range of practices through
exhibitions, journals, and educational programs.
Minor White (19081976).
Born in Minnesota and aspiring to poetry as an English major at the University
of Minnesota, White moved to Portland, Oregon, where he took up photography. He
later studied with art historian Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University.
Stieglitz’s idea of “equivalents” influenced him to see photographs as visible
embodiments of emotional states, and White began photographing landscapes,
clouds, trees, water, rocks, peeling walls, fog, and frost with an intense
attention to texture, looking for the mystic meaning of things and sometimes
using infrared film to reach for an even grander sense of mystery. White was a
master of black-and-white printing, and he cofounded Aperture magazine
in 1952, along with Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and historians Beaumont
Newhall and Nancy Newhall.
Garry Winogrand (19281984).
Growing up in the Bronx, Winogrand studied painting and photography in New York
and began working as a commercial photographer in the 1950s. During the 1960s,
he was in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the George Eastman House
in Rochester. Winogrand shot everything in the social landscape, from city
streets to sporting events to agricultural fairs, catching movement and people
in action in a style that seemed spontaneous. He used a wide-angle lens that
allowed him to load the frame with information and distraction, achieving a
balance between chaos and order that gave his work the distinctive feel of the
1960s and 1970s. Winogrand may have shot more pictures than any other
photographer in the predigital ageabout 300, 000 frames.
Joel-Peter Witkin (b.
1939). Born in Brooklyn, Witkin photographed the Vietnam War in the early 1960s
and studied sculpture and fine arts at Cooper Union, Columbia University, and
the University of New Mexico. Based in Albuquerque, Witkin developed a style
that was inspired by Daguerreotype and ambrotypes, with his subjects typically
centered, and the print given an antique finish. His large-scale images feature
human deformity, corpses, contortion, prosthetic devices, body parts, and hermaphrodite
nude portraits. He uses a variety of props that include torture instruments,
medical implements, religious paraphernalia, and sadomasochistic accoutrements.
Claiming a religious motivation, Witkin’s shocking photographs attempt to uncover
fears and desires. His work is both celebrated and contemned, repelling many and