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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Merrill H. Klassy

Dates:  1900, 18 October - 1995, 14 December
Born:  US
Died:  US, FL, Tampa area

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Merrill H. Klassy
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Born on October 18, 1900, Merrill H. Klassy was a Minneapolis pictorialist. Between 1922 and 1933 he worked at an investment firm and a loan company. In 1934, he was hired by the Northwest National Bank and Trust Company, where he stayed until his retirement in 1965, except for a few years in the U.S. Army during World War II.
He became interested in photography in the late 1930s and initially was a member of the Lynnhurst Camera Club for a few years. In 1940, he joined the Minneapolis Camera Club, in which he quickly became active. He was its vice-president for the 1941-42 season and president, 1947-48. In the early 1940s, he was often the top point winner in the clubís six-month competitions. He judged one monthly competition for the YMCA Camera Club in 1945 and two years later became the first chairman of the Minneapolis Council of Camera Clubs, a new organization dedicated to continuing the cityís annual salon.
Klassy appears to have exhibited his photographs only in the Twin Cities area. The Minneapolis Salon of Photography accepted them most years between 1939 and 1949. Other shows included the 1941 Spring Salon (Walker Art Center), 1941 Minnesota State Fair, 1946 Minnesota Statewide Salon of Photography, (Daytonís department store), and the 1947 Minnesota Statewide Salon (University of Minnesota).
Klassy was more adventuresome technically than most Twin Cities photographers. He experimented with abrasion tone and color oils, two highly manipulative processes championed by the California pictorialist William Mortensen. He also successfully used paper negatives, as is evident in his print Minnesota Hillside, owned by the museum. In it he used a typical pictorial subject of hay bales on a field, arrayed in a pleasing pattern and rendered particularly soft, due to the paper negative.
Klassy retired in 1965 and moved to Florida, where he immediately built a darkroom and delved into hand-coloring old and new work. He died in the Tampa area on December 14, 1995. 
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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