Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The man with his own style

The bottom book is an inexpensive Phaidon title with lots of photos. ISBN 071484151X

Siskind's work, more or less, falls into two parts: the Photo League and representational photography up to 1954 and the abstract expressionistic photos from around 1950 onwards. The book and essays give prominence to the latter which I think is reasonable because Siskind had this field to himself, there are pages of wonderful photos revealing close-ups of graphic shapes and textures captured in the urban landscape and also similar abstract images of plants and trees from the natural world.

Giles Mora devotes a lot of space in his essays explaining how Siskin's abstract photo style evolved and how it tied in with abstract expressionist painters in mid-century New York. There is a chapter devoted to Franz Kline (one of Siskind's friends) with some photos that, at a glance, look remarkably like Kline paintings.

I was slightly disappointed that forty-four photos from Siskind's Photo League years are not given the same prominence as his abstract work. Several of them are too small on the page leaving plenty of empty space. Other than that this is a fine photobook revealing extraordinary images taken by a rather forgotten photographer.

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