In the 1930s, Aaron Siskind explored a variety of social issues in documentary-style images and created the series Harlem Document (selections from which are represented in the Brooklyn Museum’s collection). His work became abstract and metaphoric in the early 1940s, and he cultivated friendships with such Abstract Expressionist painters as Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko. Siskind’s photographs of graffiti, peeling plaster, sections of signs, road surfaces, and found objects marked a decisive shift in his work; exploring the properties of the medium, he flattened the picture plane, paid close attention to tonal gradation, and often drastically cropped the image.
Gloucester 16A was made during a prolific period in Gloucester, Massachusetts, during the summers of 1944 and 1945. In many photographs from the Gloucester series, the shapes are unrecognizable and the shallow space is extremely compressed. This image elevates a simple section of wall into a totemic figure. Like a strange, rural Rorschach blot, the circular opening, a black void, suggests both an eye and a peephole.
Gelatin silver photograph
Image: 18 x 13 in. (47 x 33.0 cm)
Sheet: 19 7/8 x 15 7/8 in. (50.3 x 40.4) (show scale)
This item is not on view
Gift of Robert L. Smith and Patricia L. Sawyer
© Aaron Siskind Foundation
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Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991). Gloucester 16A, 1944. Gelatin silver photograph, Image: 18 x 13 in. (47 x 33.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Robert L. Smith and Patricia L. Sawyer, 1999.127.9. © Aaron Siskind Foundation
overall, 1999.127.9_transp4837.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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