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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John Szarkowski

Born: John Thaddeus Szarkowski 
Dates:  1925 - 2007, 7 July
Born:  US, WI, Ashland
Died:  US, MA, Pittsfield
Active:  US
American photography historian, theorist and photographer with an ability to spot trends and the significance of the contemporary. The "New Documents" exhibition he curated at the Museum of Modern Art (NY) in 1967 showed the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand. He also saw the importance of color in the work of William Eggleston in a 1976 MoMA exhibition. Although he was frequently criticized for his choices they have in major part proved correct and become defining moments in our understanding of photography.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Following Edward Steichen as the Director of the Department of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Szarkowski was instrumental in shaping America’s view of photography: MoMA produced 160 photo exhibitions during his tenure (1962–1991), many directed by Szarkowski. His role as critic, educator, and curator found form in a stream of books and critical writings, many associated with his exhibitions at MoMA. With a keen eye and thoughtful pen, he was a significant force in the careers of numerous contemporary photographers, championing the work of young photographers such as Arbus, Friedlander, Eggleston, and Winogrand, and paying homage to 20th century masters Adams, Callahan, Steiglitz, Penn, Kertesz, Atget, and more. Having achieved success as a photographer in his own right early in his career, he returned to photographic practice after his retirement from MoMA and in 2005 mounted his first retrospective. 
(Author: Garie Waltzer - Photographer and consultant) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Bill Jay
John Szarkowski 
Family history 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on John Szarkowski.] 
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