Aaron Siskind: The Thing Itself
January 13 – May 10, 2009
Aaron Siskind, Chicago, 1949, Gelatin silver print. Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Gift of the Illinois Arts Council, 1976.140.
Aaron Siskind (1903–1991) is best known for his abstract photographs, often of natural forms or architectural features that were manipulated in order to produce unfamiliar images.
Siskind minimized the importance of literal representation by carefully distinguishing between a photograph of something—which is a distinct, flat object shaped by the photographer’s perception—and his fully three-dimensional subject or “the thing itself.”
This intimate exhibition combined key images from Siskind’s first forays into abstraction with the artist’s own eloquent writings in order to examine the tension inherent in his work: between the artist’s perception and the literal representation of an object.