About this artwork
Aaron Siskind, who became known for images of walls reminiscent of Abstract Expressionist paintings, also discovered abstraction on the beaches of Chicago. Between 1953 and 1956, he photographed divers at Chicago’s Oak Street Beach. Silhouetted against the sky, the precariously balanced figures look like hieroglyphs and recall the linguistic forms Siskind saw in urban walls. He called the series Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation.
In a 1978 interview, Siskind explained what had attracted him about the divers: “I was walking along the lake in Chicago, and I saw these guys jumping off a diving board. It was a beautiful Sunday, and I was just walking along with my Rolleiflex. I sat down and started taking pictures of them without knowing exactly what I was doing, only that I was taking pictures of divers. The results didn’t particularly interest me until I looked at one that struck me. This guy was a diver, but he wasn’t a diver. He was levitating as if in a dream state, and then I knew what I was after.”
- Currently Off View
- Photography and Media
- Aaron Siskind
- Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 474
- United States
- Made 1954
- Gelatin silver print
- Unmarked recto; inscribed and signed verso, on mount, upper center, black marker: "From, "Pleasures + Terrors of Levitation" 1954 / Aaron Siskind"; inscribed verso, on mount, upper left, in graphite: "'54" [encircled]; verso, lower left, in graphite: "3"
- 39.3 × 38.2 cm (image/paper); 49.7 × 46.3 cm (mount)
- Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Irwin M. Siegel
- © Aaron Siskind Foundation.