Important Artists You Should Know

I post this thing every year as my students begin to work on their artist/research papers.  I add to it every year, as I realize someone isn’t on the list.  Heck, I’ve started a whole list of new photographers, too, but these are the classics.  These you should know.

Berenice Abbott – architectural studies of New York City in the 1930s – the Atget of Manhattan

Ansel Adams – Majestic landscapes of the American West

Robert Adams – Documenting the environmental destruction of the American West in the late 20th century

Manuel Alvarez Bravo – cultural and surreal imagery from Mexico

Diane Arbus-sometime shocking and confrontational photographer of the 1960s

Eugene Atget – documentary photos of Paris architecture in the early 20th century

Tiny Barney- refabricated documents of northeastern families

Bernd and Hilla Becher- created a systematic approach to photography, specifically industrial architecture

E. J. Bellocq – prostitute portraits from the red-light district of New Orleans in 1912

Karl Blossfeldt – Early 20th century, magnified photos of plant life revealed surreal, even Art Noveau forms

Margaret Bourke-White – Photojournalist, made some of the first photodocumentation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Bill Brandt – surrealist and working class imagery, British, 1930-60

Mathew Brady- known for his political portraits and his photography documenting the Civil War

Brassai – after dark in the Paris underworld between the wars

Harry Callahan – formalistic, minimalist portraits and landscapes

Julia Margaret Cameron – Victorian portraits, soft focus, from the early days of photography

Robert Capa—major war photographer

Alvin Langdon Coburn – pioneer of abstract photography with his “Vortographs”

Larry Clark—important documentary photographer (and film director) dealing with drug use and lust in teens

Gregory Crewdson–amazing and surreal images with elaborate stage set ups using color and light

Imogen Cunningham – American modernist, best known for closeups of flowers and plants

Roy DeCarava – documenting the African-American experience and its cultural icons

Robert Doisneau – Happy photos of Parisian life in the mid 20th century.

William Eggleston – deceptively banal color photos of contemporary American rural and suburban life

Walker Evans – imagery of American society during the Great Depression

Roger Fenton – the first war photographer: the Crimea, 1850s

Lee Friedlander – Contemporary, humorous, visually exciting

Emmet Gowin – “Gowin’s simple yet intensely seen daily events take on the quality of ritual” – Jonathan Green

John Gutmann – 1930s America but NOT the Great Depression, a precursor of the street photographers of the 50s

Lewis Hine – activist documentary work from early 20th century, from Ellis Island to child labor to sweatshops

Hill & Adamson – mid-19th-century calotypists, interesting collaboration between artist and technician

Yousuf Karsh – Canadian portrait master, created some of the iconic portraits of world leaders in the 40s and 50s.

Andre Kertesz – Eastern Europe to Paris to New York, ranging from surrealist imagery to street photography

William Klein – New York street photography in the mid-fifties

Josef Koudelka – Czechoslovakian, 1970s images of his Exile in Western Europe

Dorothea Lange – documented American poor during the Great Depression

Jacques-Henri Lartigue – a child photographer, with exuberance and delight, France before World War I

Clarence John Laughlin – haunting images of abandoned cotton plantations and cemeteries in New Orleans.

Helen Levitt – street photography from early 1940’s New York City.

Danny Lyon–works in the style of photographic “New Journalism”, meaning that the photographer has become immersed, and is a participant, of the documented subject

Sally Man–best known for her large black-and-white photographs—specifically her photographs of her children in “Immediate Family”

Robert Mapplethorpe – erotically charged imagery from a gay perspective

Ralph Eugene Meatyard – surrealist vision from middle America in the 1950s and 1960s

Joel Meyerowitz – moving from street photography to landscape; from black-and-white to color; and from 35mm to 8 x 10 format

Duane Michals-creates photo-sequences and the incorporation of text to examine emotion and philosophy

Lisette Model – an important pioneer in street photography and portraits from the edge

Tina Modotti – revolutionary images from 1920s Mexico

Eadweard Muybridge – 1880s, the first to use the camera to analyze motion too fast to be seen with the naked eye.

Nadar – Paris, 1850-1870, portraits, early photographic pioneer

Arnold Newman – One of the greatest portrait-makers in the history of photography

Timothy O’Sullivan – Civil War and American West, wet plate photography

Paul Outerbridge – 1920s and 30s surrealism and fetishistic nudes; a pioneer in color photography

Gordon Parks – documented the post-WWII African-American experience, portraying the common people and icons of the civil rights era

Irving Penn – much, much more than just a fashion photographer

Jacob Riis – photos were only a tool for his crusade against poverty in early 20th century New York City slums

Alexander Rodchenko – 1920-30s in Russia, formalist, odd angles, a new way of looking

Sebastiao Salgado – documenting the human condition in late 20th century, from Ethiopian famine to Brazilian hell mines

Cindy Sherman – artist using the photographic self-portrait as a means to express narrative.

Stephen Shore – master of large format camera, working in color depictions of urban scenes and landscapes.

Julius Shulman- architectural studies in LA of 60s

W. Eugene Smith – documentary photography with a moral edge, the King of the Photo Essay

Frederick Sommer – Surrealist imagery somehow from realist content

Edward Steichen – protege of Stieglitz, pioneer in pictorialism before moving on to fashion photography

Alfred Stieglitz – the Prophet of photography as an art form, his own excellent work is too often overlooked

Paul Strand – another Stieglitz protege, pioneer of Straight Photography

William Henry Fox Talbot – early photographic pioneer, developed some of the first methods of fixing shadows on paper

Jerry Uelsmann – complex multiple prints utilizing “post-visualization” to depict ambiguous and humorous imagery

Roman Vishniac: A Vanished World shows jewish life before the holocaust

Max Waldman – celebrating theatre and the dance, 1960s and 1970s.

Carleton E. Watkins – premier landscape photographer of the American West in the 1800s

Weegee- depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death in press photography

Edward Weston – photographer’s photographer, f64, landscapes, portraits, still lifes, all done in same realist manner

Minor White – cofounder with Ansel Adams of the Zone System, also a great educator

Garry Winogrand – compulsive street photographer, imagery is edgy, disorienting

Lothar Wolleh – a master of the portrait, featuring photographs of modern artists

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