Special Collection Bios

Manuel Álvarez Bravo

Manuel Álvarez Bravo was a teenager when he first picked up a camera and began taking pictures, before he enrolled in night classes in painting at the Academia San Carlos, in 1917, or sought instruction in the darkroom of local German photographer Hugo Brehme. Initially self-taught, Álvarez Bravo’s style developed through study of foreign and local photography journals. In these pages, he first encountered the work of Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, who came to Mexico in 1923; the latter became a close colleague and supporter, introducing Álvarez Bravo to the artists of Mexico’s avant-garde, including Diego Rivera, Frida Khalo, and Rufino Tamayo, as well as encouraging him to send photographs to Weston.

In the 1930s, Álvarez Bravo met Paul Strand, traveling with him while he worked in Mexico, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. With Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans he exhibited in a three-man show at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, in 1935. Mexico was a cultural hub for many in the international avant-garde in these years; André Breton visited, including Álvarez Bravo in the Exposition of Surrealism he organized in 1940 in Mexico City. Although the artist never identified with Surrealism, it was a major theme in the analysis of his pictures throughout his career. Revealing the influence of his formative years following the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Álvarez Bravo would instead speak of his interest in representing the cultural heritage, peasant population, and indigenous roots of the Mexican people in the face of rapid modernization.

Taken from MOMA website – https://www.moma.org/artists/135

Harold Eugene Edgerton

Harold Edgerton was born in Fremont, Nebraska, and he received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska. After completing a master’s degree in the subject at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1927, he joined the university faculty; he was awarded a PhD in 1931. Between 1933 and 1966, Edgerton applied for forty-five patents for various strobe and electrical engineering devices. He obtained a patent for the stroboscope–a high-powered repeatable flash device–in 1949. His books include Flash! Seeing the Unseen by Ultra High-Speed Photography (1939), Electronic Flash, Strobe (1969), Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography (1979), and Sonar Images (1986). His photographs were exhibited for the first time in 1933, at the Royal Photographic Society in London, and Beaumont Newhall included his work in the first exhibition of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937. Edgerton was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1973. His work was the subject of a retrospective at the International Center of Photography, and he was given ICP’s Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1987.

Edgerton revolutionized photography, science, military surveillance, Hollywood filmmaking, and the media through his invention of the strobe light in the early 1930s. The photographs that resulted from his scientific experiments were championed in the 1930s as representative of the New Objectivity, the American counterpart to the German Neue Sachlichkeit. Edgerton’s photography of split-second motion may be seen as an expansion beyond the nineteenth-century locomotion studies of by Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey.

Taken from International Center of Photography website –  https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/harold-eugene-edgerton?all/all/all/all/0

Bill Gaskins

From a professional base in photography and arts writing, an academic foundation in fine art, the history of photography, American Studies and the perspective of a citizen of the United States, the work of Bill Gaskins explores questions about photography and the portrait in the 21st century. A critical entry point for the viewer is his fascination with the myths of photography and American culture and representations of African American people. His approach to photography as both producer and critical spectator has garnered attention through commissions, artist residencies, grants, public lectures, solo and group exhibitions, exhibition catalogs and books.

Good And Bad Hair: Photographs by Bill Gaskins is his breakthrough monograph on the role of hairstyling and photographic representation in African American culture(s) that is also a reflection on the societal and transcultural role of hair, adornment and personal identity.

As an artist, teacher, scholar, and essayist, Bill Gaskins’ artwork, teaching, writing, lectures and workshops examine race and visual representation, photography & the portrait, the history of photography, contemporary art and the politics of visual culture, media literacy, the evolution of university art education, and the artist as citizen.

Taken from Bill Gaskin’s website –  http://www.billgaskins.com/bio.html

Ralph Gibson

Ralph Gibson is an American photographer best known for his fine-art images that explore the surreal visual nature of the subconscious. Utilizing visual fragments that resemble the way we see in dreams, Gibson’s images are mysterious, symbolic and often erotic.

He was born in Hollywood, California in 1939.  His father was an assistant director to Alfred Hitchcock and as a young boy he would visit the set during filming. He was impressed by the power of the camera lens and the intensity of the lights; this set him on the path to his later work in photography.

Taking inspiration from musicians and abstract artists Ralph Gibson’s images seem to speak to the surreal and subconscious. Known for his photographic books and prints, his dramatic compositions evoke a deep sense of mystery and an eye for detail that can turn the ordinary into profound studies in abstraction.

Taken from International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum website –  https://iphf.org/inductees/ralph-gibson/

Philippe Halsman

Philippe Halsman was born in Riga and began to take photographs in Paris in the 1930s. He opened a portrait studio in Montparnasse in 1934, where he photographed André Gide, Marc Chagall, André Malraux, Le Corbusier and other writers and artists, using an innovative twin-lens reflex camera that he had designed himself.

In the course of his prolific career in America, Halsman produced reportage and covers for most major American magazines, including a staggering 101 covers for Life magazine. His assignments brought him face-to-face with many of the century’s leading personalities.

In 1945, he was elected the first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, where he led the fight for photographers’ creative and professional rights. His work soon won international recognition, and in 1951, he was invited by the founders of Magnum Photos to join the organization as a ‘contributing member’, so that they could syndicate his work outside the United States. This arrangement still stands.

Taken from Magnum Photos website – https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/philippe-halsman/

George Hurrell

Born in Kentucky and raised in Cincinnati, George Hurrell displayed an interest in drawing at an early age. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago briefly, then the neighboring Academy of Fine Arts in his teens, but he left school in 1922 and attempted a career as a painter. He took a job hand-painting photographs in a commercial studio, and accepted a series of temporary positions with other commercial studios, learning technical skills that didn’t interest him. In 1925 he moved to California, where he discovered that his photographs sold better than his paintings; he cultivated a reputation for his photographic portraits. Hurrell met Edward Steichen in 1928, when the elder photographer borrowed his darkroom to develop his photographs of Greta Garbo. Hurrell’s first major Hollywood commission was to photograph the actor Ramon Novarro. He went on to work as a freelance or staff photographer for five movie production companies between 1930 and 1956, and at the Pentagon during the World War II. Hurrell resumed freelance work between 1960 and 1975, when the demand for his portraits had waned. Rediscovered during the 1970s, he enjoyed a brief second career, and his work was the subject of several monographs, including The Hurrell Style: 50 Years of Photographing Hollywood (1976) and Hurrell’s Hollywood Portraits: The Chapman Collection (1997).

Hurrell revolutionized Hollywood portraiture between 1925 and 1950 through his ability to capture and create the glamour, allure, and celebrity of his subjects. In many of his images, elegant artifice renders them almost as living sculptures. Before Hurrell’s time, promotional stills throughout the movie industry were in a homogeneous style, characterized by soft-focus, generic studio settings, and standard lighting placement. Changing public tastes and the popularization of television altered Hollywood marketing priorities in the 1950s and 1960s, and Hurrell’s approach to portraiture fell out of favor.

Taken from International Center for Photography website –  https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/george-hurrell?all/all/all/all/0

Doris Offerman Collection

Works from Jack Friedman, John James Gruen, John Hutchins, Robert Desmé, and W.G. Pollack are part of the Doris Offerman Collection. Offerman, a graduate of SLU in ’34, played a significant role in the Photography Society of America, a group of amateur professionals that regularly exhibited their work. Offerman donated her photography collection in 1967 when the university was building an art complex (now Griffiths Hall). She saw the collection as a teaching tool based on form, composition, and structure rather than subject. Many of the photographs in the Offerman Collection range from the 1930s to the 1960s.

A past exhibit of this collection, Best in Show, was shown in the Brush Art Gallery in 1997. The statement for the show says its purpose is to “critically examine the evolving function of the university teaching collection. Many of the photographs represent what are now considered sexists and racists attitudes to subjects, a perspective no doubt transparent when the photographs were made, but which are strikingly evident today.”

This statement resonates, even more, today and clarifies how the structure of photography has been established and how contemporary photographers have explored this visual language. The works paired with many of these images are aware of the established techniques and forms that these past works convey but use them to challenge photography’s past prescribed language.

Here are links to the statement of Best of Show, a letter from Doris Offerman in conversation with Barbara Green about the works in the collection and other newspaper clippings (unknown, slu almuni magazine)

caption for image: Doris is pictured on the left with the Mahwinneys and their dog photos on the right.

Arthur Rothstein

Born in New York City in 1915, Arthur Rothstein showed an early interest in photography. While studying at Columbia University, he met economics instructor Roy Stryker, who would later establish the photographic section of the Resettlement Administration (later the Farm Security Administration) in Washington, DC. Appreciating Rothstein’s technical proficiency and enthusiasm for photography, Stryker hired him in 1935 as the first staff photographer for the FSA. Praised for the directness and immediacy of his imagery, Rothstein produced notable photographic series on farming communities in the Midwestern Dust Bowl. After leaving the FSA in 1940, Rothstein took a position as photographer for Look magazine; he remained there until 1971, ultimately serving as the magazine’s director of photography.

Taken from International Center of Photography website – https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/arthur-rothstein?all/all/all/all/0

Adrienne Salinger

Adrienne Salinger is a New Mexico-based photographer. She formerly lived in Seattle, Washington.

Born in Los Angeles, Salinger received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1977. Her photographs are held in collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in Texas.

Salinger is best known for her 1995 photo book In my Room: Teenagers in their Bedrooms, which was a series of portraits capturing the transitionary period of teenage years through portraits of teens in their personal spaces.

Taken from Washington State Arts Commission website – https://www.arts.wa.gov/artist-collection/?request=record;id=4291;type=701

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman’s work is probably the most broadly successful of any of the artists who emerged in the late 1970s and were described by critics as “postmodern.” She has consistently and prolifically produced photographs that incorporate theoretical concerns with subtlety and sophistication into visually compelling and psychologically powerful images. Unlike many of her fellow contemporary artists, she has avoided the use of text, and has resisted making theoretical pronouncements about her work.

Sherman’s first one-person exhibit was held in 1979 at Hallwalls in Buffalo, New York, where she had attended the State University College, receiving a BA in 1976. From 1975 to 1980, Sherman produced a large body of Untitled Film Stills: small black and white prints depicting Sherman in costume within simulated scenarios evocative of film noir, B-movies, and French New Wave films. From 1982 to 1984 her treatment of conventional gender roles and commercial images began to include exaggerated and unsettling makeup, costumes, and garish lighting. By 1985, her prints grew in scale, and her imagery became unambiguously repulsive depicting warped fairy tale scenarios, surreal scenes of disaster and dismemberment, and grotesque mixtures of bodily waste and putrefaction. Her own physical presence in these images was largely fragmented or withdrawn. Her use of physical imperfections and distortions evolved into a series of prosthetic sex pictures begun in 1992. With this period, Sherman almost entirely eliminated her own body from her photographs.

Sherman has exhibited extensively, having numerous individual shows internationally and a major retrospective at MOCA. She has also been the subject of several monographs, including a substantial critical interpretation of her work from 1975-93 by Rosalind Krauss.

Taken from International Center of Photography website – https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/cindy-sherman?all/all/all/all/0

Paul Strand

Paul Strand sought to express the feeling of the land and its inhabitants directly, honestly, and with respect. His prints are masterly in detail and tonality, and his approach has greatly influenced American photography. Strand advocated “straight photography,” and photographed street portraits to city scenes, machine forms, and plants with his distinctive clarity, precision, and geometric form. From 1904-09, he studied photography under Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture School in New York, where he was born. Hine introduced Strand to Alfred Stieglitz, who encouraged him and gave him an exhibition at in 1915, and published his work in the two final issues of Camera Work. Active as both a still photographer and a filmmaker, Strand has been extremely influential.

After completing military service as an X-ray technician in the Army Medical Corps, Strand collaborated with Charles Sheeler in 1921 on the short film Mannahatta, and from 1923 to 1929, he worked as a freelance cinematographer. For the next several years, he photographed in Maine, Colorado, New Mexico, and Canada. He served as chief of photography and cinematography for the Mexican government’s Department of Fine Arts from 1932 until 1934; he supervised production of the government-sponsored documentary The Wave. In 1935 he traveled with directors of the Group Theatre to Moscow, where he met film director Sergei Eisenstein. Upon his return, he worked on Pare Lorentz’s film The Plough That Broke the Plains for the Resettlement Administration. Strand settled in Orgeval, France, in 1951; there his attention to “the world at his doorstep” shifted to the simple beauty of his garden. He published a series of books on his travels around the world.

Taken from International Center of Photography website – https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/paul-strand?all/all/all/all/0

Francis Wu

Francis Wu, who moved to Hong Kong in 1931, always wanted to show the world that Hong Kong is to be respected and recognized in the field of photography. The name Francis Wu is an institutional with local and overseas photographers. Francis lived in Hong Kong for over 50 years. He is part of Hong Kong’s photographic history.

Mr. Wu maintains as one of the top ambitions the spreading of photography among the Chinese. He made a number of trips to various parts of China with this aim in view. He wanted to witness a great awakening of interest in photography among the Chinese people.

In 1971, Mr. Wu was invited by the Chinese government and went on a 40-day photo expedition to Northern China. At that time, he was the only photographer allowed into China. His photographic record of this trip resulted in a memorable exhibition at Hong Kong City Hall, and the exhibition went on a one year tour to Australia, the United States and other countries.

Taken from Francis Wu’s Hong Kong website – http://franciswushongkong.blogspot.com/p/about.html