SISKIND, Aaron. Photographs. New York City: Horizon Press, 1959. -PRESENTATION COPY



Photographs / Introduction by Harold Rosenberg.
New York City: Horizon Press, 1959.

Folio (330 × 254 mm), pp.[112]. 50 black-and-white photographs. Design by Ivan Chermaye. Tan endpapers. Black cloth-covered boards, spine lettered in silver and red, upper side blocked in silver; light handling marks and minor toning to page edges, front top corner lightly bumped. Black-and-white photo-illustrated dust-jacket, text in red and black, author’s photograph by Harry Callahan on rear flap; front panel lightly toned and rubbed, blocking showing through as usual, short tears to head and foot of spine and flap-folds strengthened with tape to verso, light wear to edges, creasing and moderate area of abrasion to rear panel, several small chips. Siskind’s presentation inscription in black ink on front free endpaper. An excellent copy in a very good dust-jacket.

First edition of Siskind’s first book, a presentation copy inscribed: ‘Cora in love / Aaron / 3/13/61’. Cora Ginsburg was a scholar and dealer who specialised in museum quality antique costume and textiles. Her mother, Bertha Kling, had met Aaron Siskind during a camping trip in upstate New York in the 1920s, and she and her family remained friends with Siskind for decades.

From 1950 Cora worked with her husband Benjamin Ginsburg at his family’s antiques firm in Manhattan. At Ginsburg Levy, and later Benjamin Ginsburg Antiquary, she was the buyer of textiles, needlework, ceramics, silver and brass. When her husband retired in 1982 she opened her own gallery on the Upper East Side called Cora Ginsburg LLC. She did much to develop the field of collecting costumes, and was a consultant to Colonial Williamsburg, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and other major institutions.

After an initial career teaching English in public schools Aaron Siskind joined the New York Workers’ Film and Photo League (1932-35) and later the Photo League (1936-41) and was actively involved. However, he left in the early-forties saying that ‘the so-called documentary picture left me wanting something... For some reason or other there was in me the desire to see the world clean and fresh and alive, as primitive things are clean and fresh and alive.’ He began experimenting with the medium’s capacity for abstraction, making photographs of rocks, rust, graffiti and peeling plaster, echoing and influenced by his association with Franz Kline and the the emerging Abstract Expressionist painters.

Roth A., The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century pp.152-5; Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I p.250; Roth, A., The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present pp.180-1.


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