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Gloucester 16A

Aaron Siskind


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.
MEDIUM Gelatin silver print
DATES 1944
DIMENSIONS 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)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Robert L. Smith and Patricia L. Sawyer
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Aaron Siskind (American, 1903–1991). Gloucester 16A, 1944. Gelatin silver print, Image: 18 x 13 in. (47 x 33.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Robert L. Smith and Patricia L. Sawyer, 1999.127.9. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1999.127.9_transp4837.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1999.127.9_transp4837.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Aaron Siskind Foundation
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