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James Smalls

(b Cedar Rapids, IA, June 17, 1880; d New York, Dec 21, 1964).

American patron and photographer. He began his career as a music and theatre critic, and as a novelist of light fiction. After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1906, he joined the staff of the New York Times as an assistant music critic and soon gained prominence within the worlds of music, theatre, and the performing arts. In 1932 Van Vechten gave up these activities and became a full-time amateur photographer. As a well-connected patron of the arts and letters, Van Vecthen gave African American writers their first break by introducing them and their work to key individuals in the white-operated world of publishing. He became an invaluable asset in this regard to authors such as Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, and Zora Neale Hurston. He also assisted the African American artist Aaron Douglas in securing commissions of graphic designs for various magazines and authored books. Later in life, Douglas publicly acknowledged Van Vechten’s importance in getting the artist started in his career as an artist....


Marita Sturken

Culture of images and visuality that creates meaning in our world today. This includes media forms such as photography, film, television, and digital media; art media such as painting, drawing, prints, and installations; architecture and design; comic books and graphic novels; fashion design, and other visual forms including the look of urban life itself. It also encompasses such social realms as art, news, popular culture, advertising and consumerism, politics, law, religion, and science and medicine. The term visual culture also refers to the interdisciplinary academic field of study that aims to study and understand the role that images and visuality play in our society; how images, gazes, and looks make meaning socially, culturally, and politically; how images are integrated with other media; and how visuality shapes power, meaning, and identity in contemporary global culture.

The emergence of the concept of visual culture as a means to think about the role of images in culture and as an academic field of study is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging in the late 1980s and becoming established by the late 1990s. There were numerous factors that contributed to the idea that images should be understood and analysed across social arenas rather than as separate categories, including the impact of digital media on the circulation of images across social realms, the modern use of images from other social arenas (such as news and advertising) in art, and the cross-referencing of cultural forms displayed in popular culture and art. It was also influenced by the increasingly visible role played by images in political conflict and a general trend toward interdisciplinarity in academia....


Reinhold Misselbeck

(b Basle, April 12, 1946).

Swiss photographer. He studied photography at the Gewerbeschule, Basle (1964–7). After being apprenticed to American photographer Will McBride (1931–2015) in Munich, he opened his own studio in Basle in 1970. From 1972 he worked for various magazines, such as Du, Camera, Time-Life and Playboy. His photographs were created in clearly defined phases, such as his ‘blue period’ with tinted prints (1973–5) or the ‘frame’ series (1975) of photographs in which a rectangular frame photographed inside the field of view became the parameter for a picture within a picture (e.g. Without Title, 1975; Basle, Antikenmus.). His best-known series of erotic self-presentations of women, with a wooden crate as a prop (1979–81), explored a similar principle. His photographs often implied reflections on the photograph itself, on its subject, its selection and the relationship between what was shown and what was left out....


Heather A. Shannon

(b La Salle, IL, April 15, 1856; d Altadena, CA, July 24, 1916).

American photographer and bookstore owner. In 1872 Vroman left home and in 1874 began working for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. In 1892 he acquired his first camera and began making landscape views around Rockford, IL. In the same year he married and moved to Pasadena, CA. Shortly after his wife’s death in 1894, Vroman and a business partner opened the bookstore Glasscock & Vroman; from 1901 to his death in 1916 he was the sole proprietor of Vroman’s. In addition to books, stationery, and leather goods, the store stocked Kodak products and other photography supplies. Although recognized for his California photographs of the Franciscan missions and of the sites associated with Helen Hunt Jackson’s popular 1884 novel Ramona, Vroman has become best known for his Arizona and New Mexico photography. During his first trip to the Southwest in 1895, he travelled to north-eastern Arizona to photograph the Hopi Indian Snake Dance and the Petrified Forest. From ...


David Karel

(b Listowel, Ont., May 12, 1858; d Sainte-Pétronille, Que., Sept 27, 1938).

Canadian painter and photographer. As a boy he displayed an aptitude for drawing animals and portraits. From 1873 to 1876 he was an apprentice photographer at the Notman–Fraser Studio, Toronto, and also studied drawing and painting with Robert F. Gagen (1848–1926). In 1876 he settled in Rochester, NY, working initially as a photographer. In 1877 he made a sketching tour in Quebec, visiting the Ile d’Orléans, on the St Lawrence River. From May to November 1880 he walked from Montreal to Quebec, marking the beginning of his close rapport with rural French Canadians. He also did some etching during this period, a technique he had learnt from F. Seymour Haden.

After visiting Europe in 1881, Walker’s style was influenced by Jean-François Millet; he was widely acclaimed as ‘the American Millet’ during his lifetime ( see fig. ). Other influences included Anton Mauve, Jacob and Willem Maris and Albert Pinkham Ryder, with whom he was acquainted....


John-Paul Stonard

(b Vancouver, Sept 29, 1946).

Canadian photographer. After studying Fine Art at the University of British Columbia in the 1960s, Wall undertook a research degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute in London (1970–73). Returning to Vancouver in 1974, he began making the light-box mounted transparencies that became his signature works. The large, back-lit transparencies that Wall produced through the 1980s and 1990s explore contemporary Canadian life through the filter of a background in art history. Although staged around his native Vancouver, they contain numerous references to historical imagery. These works are characterized by their highly detailed, seamless construction as well as a feeling of unease, often grotesque discomfort. Picture for Women (1979) was an early statement of his intention to create contemporary equivalents for the powerful images of modern life painted in late 19th-century France by artists such as Edouard Manet and Gustave Caillebotte. By reference to Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère...


Alexandra Noble

(b Greenburg, PA, March 29, 1946).

American photographer. He studied under Lisette Model and later became a major figure in international fashion photography. His best-known work derives from advertising assignments for the fashion designers Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld, presenting the unique synthesis of an uncompromising personal vision with an interpretation of varied historical influences. His low-angle shots of men in heroic poses recall the images of Aryan youths made in the 1930s, while some of his studio portraits evoke the spirit of classic Hollywood portraiture. His work contains a highly charged eroticism and plays on sexual ambiguity, as for example in his photographic journal O Rio de Janiero (New York, 1986).

Weber, Bruce Per lui (Milan 1985) Branded Youth and Other Stories, text by M. Harrison and C. S. Smith (Boston, New York, Toronto and London, 1997) Bruce Weber Photographs (Pasadena, 1983) J. Cheim, ed.: Bruce Weber (New York, 1989)...



Mary Christian

[ Fellig, Usher ; Fellig, Arthur ]

(b Złoczew, Austrian Galicia [now Ukraine], June 12, 1899; d New York, Dec 26, 1968).

American photographer of Austrian birth. He emigrated to the USA in 1910 and took numerous odd jobs, including working as an itinerant photographer and as an assistant to a commercial photographer. In 1924 he was hired as a dark-room technician by Acme Newspictures (later United Press International Photos). He left, however, in 1935 to become a freelance photographer. He worked at night and competed with the police to be first at the scene of a crime, selling his photographs to tabloids and photographic agencies. It was at this time that he earned the name Weegee (appropriated from the Ouija board) for his uncanny ability to make such early appearances at scenes of violence and catastrophe.

Weegee made only a meagre existence from his photographs, mostly shots of bloody murders, fires, the seedy Bowery district and sympathetic views of people who lived on the streets of New York at night. Weegee became a master of the sensational. Despite this fact, one of his most famous images is ...


Mary Chou

(b Portland, OR, April 20, 1953).

American photographer . Weems earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia in 1981 and a MFA from the University of California, San Diego, in 1984. From 1984 to 1987 she pursued graduate studies in folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Weems is well known for integrating photographs, text and audio recordings in installations that explore themes of racism, gender, identity and family from a personal as well as cultural, national and historical perspective.

Weems’s first major work, Family Pictures and Stories (1978–84), is a family album with images of her relatives interspersed with printed anecdotes and interviews that mines the history of her own family—sharecroppers who moved from Mississippi to Oregon in the early 1950s—as well as the language, relationships and history of African American families in general. In her subsequent series, Ain’t Jokin’ (1987–8), she superimposed racist jokes, riddles and epithets onto portraits of African Americans with wit and humour in order to provoke and confront viewers with their own prejudices and racist attitudes. Another series, ...


Margaret Barlow

(b Holyoke, MA, Feb 12, 1943).

American photographer, video artist, conceptual artist, sculptor, draughtsman and painter . He studied painting at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA (BFA 1965), and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (MFA 1967). During these years he produced Minimalist sculptures and paintings. In the early 1970s he used video and photography, primarily as a means of documenting such conceptual works as Untied On Tied Off (1972), a photograph of the artist’s feet with one shoe on, untied, the other with the shoe tied to his ankle. These documents gave way to photographs that took on greater artistic qualities in terms of composition and technique, while he continued to use concepts and approaches seen in the earlier pieces (particularly irony, humour and satire on both popular culture and the high culture of contemporary art). He was most well known in the 1970s for his photographic and video works featuring his Weimaraner dog, Man Ray. By ...


Richard Lorenz

(Henry )

(b Highland Park, IL, March 24, 1886; d Carmel, CA, Jan 1, 1958).

American photographer. Weston endured a lifetime of financial insecurity and emotional anxiety for the singular pursuit of his craft and aesthetic ideals. His intricately detailed journals, which he called his ‘daybooks’ and which date from 1923 to 1943, convey an intimate sense of his creative life.

Weston took his first photographs in 1902 with a Bullseye camera, a gift from his father. He migrated to Los Angeles in 1906, by then an accomplished amateur photographer. He returned to Chicago c. 1908 to study commercial photography at the Illinois College of Photography and then returned to Los Angeles, where he worked for the Mojonier Studio, a commercial portrait studio, between c. 1909 and 1911. In 1909 he married Flora Chandler, with whom he had four sons. They moved to Tropico (now Glendale), Los Angeles, where Weston had established his own portrait studio by 1911–12.

Weston exhibited his fine Pictorialism platinum prints in numerous international photographic salons and was often singled out in reviews as an original, artistic, and perceptive talent (...


Terence Pitts

(b West Carlisle, OH, April 8, 1871; d Mexico City, July 8, 1925).

American photographer and teacher . A self-taught photographer, he began taking photographs in 1893 and soon developed a style that showed the influence of Whistler, Sargent and Japanese prints. He was elected to the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the group of Pictorial photographers in 1900 and was a leading member of the Photo-Secession from 1902. His evocative photographs of rural landscapes and of his family celebrate the joys and virtues of the simple, middle-class way of life that existed in the USA before World War I (e.g. Ring Toss , 1899; New York, Met.)

By 1906 White was already a major figure in American photography and moved to New York, where he began a close professional and artistic relationship with Alfred Stieglitz that lasted until 1912. His work was published in Camera Work in July 1903, Jan 1905, July 1908, July 1909 and Oct 1910. In 1908 he began teaching photography, founding in ...


Richard Lorenz

(Martin )

(b Minneapolis, MN, July 9, 1908; d Boston, MA, June 24, 1976).

American photographer and writer. He took his first photographs as a child with a Kodak Box Brownie camera and later learnt darkroom procedures as a student at the University of Minnesota. After graduating in 1933 with a degree in botany and English, he wrote poetry for five years while supporting himself with odd jobs. He moved to Portland, OR, in 1938 and became increasingly interested in photography. During 1938–9 he worked for the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project as a creative photographer documenting the early architecture and waterfront of Portland. In 1941 the Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited several of his images. His first one-man show, photographs of the Grande Ronde-Wallowa Mountain area of north-eastern Oregon, opened at the Portland Art Museum in 1942.

White served in the Army Intelligence Corps from 1942 to 1945, during which time he wrote about photography but took few photographs. He visited Alfred Stieglitz in New York at his gallery, An American Place, in ...


Mary Chou

[ Butter, Arlene Hannah ]

(b New York, March 7, 1940; d Houston, TX, Jan 28, 1993).

American photographer, performance artist, video artist, sculptor and teacher . Wilke earned a BFA and a teaching certificate from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia (1956–61). She taught at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, PA, until 1965, and then moved to New York City where she taught at White Plains High School, just north of the city, until 1970. From 1972 to 1991 she taught sculpture at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Wilke is well known for examining stereotypes surrounding sexuality, femininity and feminism through the use of her body, language and visual punning.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wilke created forms that were abstract but highly suggestive of female genitalia, with layered and folded flower-like shapes, modelled from clay, chewing gum, kneaded erasers, laundry lint and latex (e.g. Needed-Erase-Her , 1974). Exhibited in groups on the floor or on the wall, in an ordered and repetitious manner that recalls Minimalism, the forms are organic and sexual—suggestive of reproduction and procreation. In the 1970s Wilke began to use her own body in a series of performances, videos and photographs that confront erotic representations of the female body and cultural stereotypes about female sexuality. Her video ...


Camara Dia Holloway

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 5, 1948).

American photographer, curator and scholar. Willis was born in North Philadelphia to a hairdresser mother and a policeman father who was an amateur photographer. Within a familial and communal context, Willis learned that photographs could function as powerful statements of African American identity. These ideas were reinforced by reading her family’s copy of the publication The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955) that featured the photographs of Roy DeCarava, a major African American photographer. She also attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, Harlem on My Mind in 1969. Willis earned a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1975 and an MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1979. Inspired by the quilting and storytelling traditions in her family, Willis developed a practice that combined her photographs, family photographs and other elements into autobiographical quilts. Her later works focused more on the female body.

From 1980 to 1992...


revised by Margaret Barlow

(b New York, NY, Jan 14, 1928; d Tijuana, March 19, 1984).

American photographer and teacher. He studied painting at City College, City University of New York, under the GI Bill (1947–8), transferring to Columbia University, New York (1948–51), where he joined the students’ camera club. He abandoned painting and took up photography, studying under Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research, New York (1951). In 1952 he joined the Pix photographic agency, working with a 35-mm camera and flash. Aside from commercial assignments, his interest in the human body in movement led him to create a series of photographs at Stillman’s Gymnasium, Manhattan. His ‘snapshot’ aesthetic extended to photographing ballet dancers, showgirls, boxers, and bathers on the beach. From 1954 he was represented by Brackman Associates and his work began appearing in Collier’s, Sports Illustrated, and Pageant. Influenced by Walker Evans and Robert Frank, he aimed for instinctive, narrative pictures that required little or no caption. In ...


Matico Josephson

American photography gallery. The first commercially successful photography gallery in New York, founded in 1969 by Lee D. Witkin, and originally located at 237 East 60th Street. Witkin was briefly the only specialized photography dealer in New York. Although this monopoly came to an end in 1971, the gallery played an important role in developing the market for photographic prints in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Witkin Gallery showed a broad range of work by photographers Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Imogen Cunningham, Harry Callahan, André Kertész, Brassaï, and Jacques-Henri Lartigue, whom Lee Witkin sought out in the United States and in Europe. Witkin did not confine his efforts to the older generation, nor to any single genre. The gallery soon hosted encounters between photographers, collectors, and museum curators. By the mid-1970s, Witkin had also shown the work of avant-garde photographers Duane Michals, Les Krims, Jerry Uelsmann, and Lee Friedlander, photojournalistic work by W. Eugene Smith, Marion Palfi (...


Alexandra Noble

(b Brooklyn, New York, 1939).

American photographer . His first recorded photographs were of freaks on Coney Island made during the 1950s, giving an early indication of his ambition to challenge the boundaries of acceptable taste. His subject-matter included death, blasphemy, sado-masochism, homoeroticism and physical deformities. He presented an extreme, Gothic, nightmare world, which could be said to border on the pornographic. Balancing this taste for the grotesque was a tendency to mysticism and an aestheticism expressed in ironic reworkings of art-historical and literary themes drawn from Rembrandt, Goya, Rubens and the late 19th-century Symbolists.

Witkin studied sculpture at the Cooper Union School, New York, and in 1974 completed an MA in photography at the University of New Mexico. From the early 1970s he worked in series: Contemporary Images of Christ, Images of Women and the Rooftop series are a bizarre testament to his perverse preoccupations. The juxtaposition of Christ with comic-strip heroes, bound and gagged women surrounded by phallic fetishes and the use of masks on subjects of both sexes, withdrawing all individual identity, were central motifs of his work in the 1970s and 1980s. Witkin’s printing technique was complex and meticulous. He frequently scratched his negatives and placed thin tissue on his photographic paper to increase light refraction and soften the image, punching holes in it to emphasize chosen areas of sharpness. On warm toned papers and using a variety of toners, his prints often have a yellowish-brown Old Master look, thereby lessening the shock of such explicit imagery....


Klaus Ottmann

(b Red Bank, NJ, Sept 14, 1954; d New York City, July 22, 1992).

American painter, photographer, writer, film maker, performance artist, and gay rights activist. After an abusive and violent childhood, Wojnarowicz spent his teenage years as a male prostitute in the streets of New York City. He eventually attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and first became noticed as a graffiti artist by stencilling images of burning houses onto buildings in New York, for screening Super-8 films of abandoned buildings, and as a member of a punk band called 3 Teens Kill 4.

In the late 1980s, Wojnarowicz began to create his signature collages—provocative historical allegories to present social and political issues—by combining text, paint, collaged elements, and photography, such as Untitled (Buffalo) (1988–9), an ominous photographic collage picturing a herd of buffaloes being driven over a cliff, which was used in 1992 by the Irish rock band U2 as a cover image for their CD single ...


Reinhold Misselbeck

(b Berlin, Aug 1, 1930; d Hamburg, Nov 10, 1988).

German photographer . He studied art history and literature in Paris, Hamburg and the USA. Influenced by his encounter with American photography, he studied at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Lichtbildwesen (until 1956). He then became an independent photographer in Hamburg, teaching at the Staatliche Meisterschule für Mode Photographie and setting up a studio-house in ...