Gelatin silver print
Image: 9 7/8 x 12 7/8 in. (25.08 x 32.7 cm)
Paper: 11 x 14 in. (27.94 x 35.56 cm)
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Marjorie and Leonard Vernon
Chicago 1, 1948 focuses on the details of paint peeling away from a rough wall. The wall completely fills the frame, eliminating any surrounding context or indicators of scale. The extreme cropping, shallow depth of field, and flattened, frontal viewpoint render the image abstract. Though photography is often thought of as the most objective medium because it directly documents the physical world, Aaron Siskind employed the camera to express subjective feeling. In this work the contrast between the two textures and the tension of the paint unsticking from the wall can be seen as analogous to conflicted interior states. Previously, personal expression was considered the purview of painting, sculpture, and drawing. Siskind sought to align photography, a recording medium, with the depiction of internal emotions.
Siskind taught at Black Mountain College during the summer of 1950.