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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Ghislain J. Lootens

Born: Ghislain Jean-Baptiste Marie Lootens-DeSplenter 
Dates:  1903 (ca) - 1946, 18 August
Born:  Belgium, Lootenhulle
Died:  US, CA

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Ghislain J. Lootens
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Ghislain Jean-Baptiste Marie Lootens-DeSplenter was born in about 1903 in Lootenhulle, Belgium. During World War I, he came with his parents as a refugee to this country and at some point simplified his name. His first job here was with the Ocean Steamship Company, due to his proficiency in English, Spanish, and Russian, and for a brief time he made his living as a boxer.
In the early 1930s, Lootens studied under the great pictorialist Adolf Fassbender at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (BIAS), and subsequently attributed all he knew about photography to his teacher and then friend. Apparently a quick study, Lootens himself was teaching by 1933, offering classes that were wildly popular, both privately and at the Brooklyn YMCA. He became chairman of the BIAS photography department in 1934 and about the same time worked as a consultant to Carl Zeiss, manufacturer of photographic equipment. During the 1940s, he maintained a studio in Manhattan, where he also taught classes. He was frequently asked to lecture and judge work, and secured fellowship status in both the Photographic Society of America (FPSA) and the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS).
In 1944, Camera magazine published Lootens on Photographic Enlarging and Print Quality. This 260-page technical book, amply illustrated with the authorís own images, sold extremely well. It was in its ninth printing after only five years, was picked up by two additional publishers, and was in print as late as 1977, thirty-three years after first being issued.
Lootens exhibited in pictorial salons from about 1934 to the early 1940s, at Brooklyn, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Princeton, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, and Wilmington. His most prolific season was 1936-37, when fifteen salons accepted forty-nine of his prints.
Lootens provided a portrait of Adolf Fassbender as the frontispiece for the October 1934 issue of Photo-Art Monthly, accompanying a lead article on Fassbender. It effectively portrays his mentor as an artistic type, with contemplative eyes, unkempt hair, and a loose-fitting shirt. The museumís print of this image has Lootensís handwritten list of the nine salons that accepted it in just two years, including Toronto and Bombay. Tragically, Lootens died on his honeymoon in California, of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 18, 1946, only forty-three years old. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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