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50 Master Photographers
By Mason Resnick
Who are the most influential photographers of the (mostly) black-and-white film photography era? Here's my very subjective list. Yes, you'll have your turn to add your faves in the comments, below. Here's the final installment.
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41: W. Eugene Smith
A premier master of photojournalism, Smith passionately believed in the integrity of his subjects and the photographs that portrayed them. From his staged "Walk to Paradise Garden" to his graphic images of World War II and damning photos of the human tragedy brought on by industrial pollution at Minamata, Smith produced some of the most memorable images of his day.
42: Edward Steichen
As the curator of the photo collection for the New York Museum of Modern Art, Steichen was the man behind The Family Of Man, a late 1950's photo exhibition and recently-republished book that was a watershed in the history of photography because it gave photography mass appeal as an expressive, fine art. His curatorship brought about a grand era for "Concerned" photography.
43: Alfred Stieglitz
Instrumental in gaining acceptance for photography as an accepted art form, Alfred Stieglitz owned influential New York-based art galleries that promoted the new medium. He led the Photo Secession movement, which approached photography in a more atmospheric manner that was very popular in its day.
44: Paul Strand
A white picket fence. A poor Adirondac family. Paul Strand's pure vision and uncompromising technique gained him international accolades as a master of American photography, especially in the 1950s. His black and white photos are exquisite and memorable.
45 Jerry Uelsmann
Before there was Photoshop, there was Uelsmann. His enigmatic, surrealist collection darkroom combinations defy categorization. It is their mystery that has stumped critics and kept his fans coming back for more.
46 Roman Vishniak
While his post-war work was dominated by his pioneering macroscipic imagery, Roman Vishniak's pre-World War II images are the most haunting and, for many, proof of life before the horrors rained down upon Eastern Eurpean Jewry by the Nazis. He traveled throughout Europe, photographing "Shtetls" (small Jewish villages) and how they lived. How many survived the death camps? Probably very, very few. His photographs are silent witnesses to their existance.
A crime news photographer in the 30s and 40s in New York, Weegee (Arthur Fellig) is possibly the most well known news photographer of all time. Crude and direct, his photos have an immediacy and impact that affect the viewer to this day. His later work, distorted portraits that he called "photo charicatures", have a similar in-your-face quality.
48: Edward Weston
Weston's immaculately constructed images imbue forms of common objects with a sensuality that transcends the subject. Sharp, detailed and rich in tonality, his closeups, nudes and nature photographs brought the power of photography as an objective tool of observation to new heights. You'll never look at a pepper quite the same way again.
49: Minor White
A teacher as well as a photographer, Minor White crafted works of beauty that were also explorations of his inner self. His best known work was made of the natural wonders in the American West. He experimented with alternative processes, non-narrative sequences and techniques that would stretch the bounds of photography and prompt Ansel Adams to call him "one of the great photographers."
50: Garry Winogrand
The father of street photography, Garry Winogrand's off-kilter, anti-decisive moments rewrote the book on how a photograph should look and created an entirely new visual language unique to photography. Winogrand's work from the early 60s is as fresh and ground-breaking now as it was when he shot it, and his body of work has already influenced three generations of photographers.
Who did we leave out? Leave a comment!
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