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Archive for the ‘Photographers You Should Know’ Category

Photographers You Should Know: Manuel Álvarez Bravo

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Information for this article was received from The Getty Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

‘Figure of Christ,’ Asociación Manual Álvarez Bravo AC via The J. Paul Getty Trust

‘Figure of Christ,’ Asociación Manual Álvarez Bravo AC via The J. Paul Getty Trust

Manuel Álvarez Bravo was a self-taught Mexican photographer from a family of artists. Although trained in the classic art disciplines, Álvarez Bravo excelled at his photographic work. Born in 1902 in post-revolution Mexico City, Mexico, his career spanned nearly 80 years of professional photography and teaching.

Álvarez Bravo is considered one of the leading people in the development of photography and one of the greatest Mexican artists of the 20th century.

His early success in photography began in 1925 when he won first place in a local photographic competition in Oaxaca. He returned to Mexico City where he began socializing with artists from various disciplines. He met photographer Edward Weston, who encouraged Álvarez Bravo to continue his study in photography.

Álvarez Bravo taught photography at the San Carlos Academy during the 1930s and continued his work until his death in 2002.

His primary photographic interests include nude forms, folk art, and burial rituals.

Photographers You Should Know: Dorothea Lange

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'Migrant Mother, Florence Owens Thompson.' (Photo Credit: Dorothea Lange, via U.S. National Archives)

'Migrant Mother, Florence Owens Thompson.' (Photo Credit: Dorothea Lange, via U.S. National Archives)

Information for this article came from the Oakland Museum of California.

Photographer Dorothea Lange was a major influence in the development of modern documentary photography. Her touching and poignant photographs of people during the American Great Depression for the Farm Security Administration shaped the way people viewed the hardships and struggles of American farmers and migrant workers.

Lange’s photographs showed her compassion for her subjects and her ability to capture the essence of the subject.

Lange began in the 1920s as a commercial portrait photographer in San Francisco. Some of her earliest documentary work was of Native Americans made on her trips to the American Southwest with her first husband, painter Maynard Dixon.

Lange’s Great Depression photos show the struggles of migrant workers who were leaving the American Midwest Dust Bowl, and moving to California to find work and start a new life.

During World War II, Lange began documenting Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps, and women and minorities working in wartime industries.

Photographers You Should Know: Edward S. Curtis

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Information for this article was received from the Smithsonian Institution.

Edward S. Curtis is one of the most widely recognized, and sometimes criticized, photographers of American Native people. For more than three decades, he traveled the American West and Alaska photographing Native Americans.
Born February 16, 1868, in Wisconsin, Curtis took an interest in photography – then an emerging medium – at an early age. He built his first camera when he was a teenager and by the age of 19, he owned part interest in a photography studio in Seattle, where his family had moved.

‘Sioux Chiefs.’ (Photo Credit: Edward S. Curtis via the Smithsonian Institution)

‘Sioux Chiefs.’ (Photo Credit: Edward S. Curtis via the Smithsonian Institution)

In his twenties, Curtis began photographing Native American in the Puget Sound area as they dug for clams and mussels. One of his earliest photographs of Native Americans was of Princess Angeline, the daughter of Sealth, the Suquamish chief after whom Seattle was named.

In 1899, at the age of 31, Curtis became the official photographer of the Harriman Expedition into Alaska. After this, he began his 30-year quest of documenting Native Americans in the United States.

Curtis funded his expeditions personally – acquiring a tremendous amount of debt – and by soliciting funds for his work. Some of his donors included President Theodore Roosevelt and railroad tycoon John Pierpont Morgan.

Curtis documented nearly 80 Native American tribes and made nearly 40,000 photographs and 10,000 recording of Native American speech and music. Like most scholars of his time, Curtis believed the Native American culture would be lost as Native Americans were brought into the mainstream culture. He wanted to create both an artistic and academic volume of work before the cultures “vanished.”

Curtis died in 1952 and the bulk of his work was forgotten. During the 1960s and 1970s, however, his work was “rediscovered” and is now recognized as one of the “most significant records of Native culture ever produced.”

Photographers You Should Know: George W. Ackerman

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Information for this article came from the U.S. Archives
George W. Ackerman was one of the many U.S. government-employed photographers who made images during the Great Depression. Ackerman started with the Bureau of Plant Industry for an annual salary of $900.

Unlike his peers, Ackerman’s photographs often depicted farmers utilizing modern farm machinery and the modern advances that had come to the U.S. agriculture community. He traveled the nation, documenting how farmers labored. Many of his peers during the Depression often focused on the poverty and difficult conditions many rural people faced, yet Ackerman showed hope in his images by focusing on the positive things that were happening in rural America.

'Farm Family Listening to Their Radio.' (Photo Credit: George W. Ackerman, August 15, 1930 National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Extension Service)

'Farm Family Listening to Their Radio.' (Photo Credit: George W. Ackerman, August 15, 1930 National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Extension Service)

Ackerman said he tried “to paint the rural scene as I saw it, modern and up-to-date in many respects.”

During his tenure in federal service, Ackerman made an estimated 50,000 photographs during his 40-year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many of which appeared in private and government agriculture publications. Often, those images were not credited to him.

Photographers You Should Know: Hans Namuth

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Information for this article was received from the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

German-born photographer Hans Namuth specialized in making portraits of famous artists, writers, architects and other creative types. His is most noted for his portraits of painter Jackson Pollock.
Namuth began his photographic career while serving as an assistant to fellow German Georg Reisner, whom Namuth met while living in Paris, France. Paris was booming with German expatriate community in Paris and Namuth was well-known among the expats.

Jackson Pollok. (Photo Credit: Hans Namuth from the National Portrait Gallery)

Jackson Pollock. (Photo Credit: Hans Namuth from the National Portrait Gallery)

Namuth traveled with Reisner in 1935 to the Spanish island of Mojorca where Reisner had a photography studio. After returning to Paris in the autumn, Namuth and Reisner maintained a studio and supported themselves by working as photojournalists. In 1936, Namuth and Reisner received an assignment to photograph the Spanish Civil War.

In 1941, Namuth traveled to the United States and joined the U.S. military. After the war, his main priorities were to raise a family and enjoy photography as a hobby. He met a teacher, Alexey Brodovitch who inspired Namuth to pursue photography as a career.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he photographed such people as Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Allen Tate and, of course, Jackson Pollock.

Namuth died October 30, 1990 due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Links to some of his images can be found at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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