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Taken By Design: Photographs from the Institute of Design, 1937–1971

Taken By Design: Photographs from the Institute of Design, 1937–1971

Edited by David Travis and Elizabeth Siegel

One of Chicago’s great cultural achievements, the Institute of Design was among the most important schools of photography in twentieth-century America. It began as an outpost of experimental Bauhaus education and was home to an astonishing group of influential teachers and students, including Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Harry Callahan, and Aaron Siskind. To date, however, the Institute’s enormous contributions to the art and practice of photography have gone largely unexplored. Taken by Design is the first publication to examine thoroughly this remarkable institution and its lasting impact.

With nearly 300 illustrations, including many never-before published photographs, Taken by Design examines the changing nature of photography over this critical period in America’s midcentury. It starts by documenting the experimental nature of Moholy’s Bauhaus approach and photography’s new and enhanced role in training the “complete designer.” Next it traces the formal and abstract camera experiments under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, which aimed at achieving a new kind of photographic subjectivity. Finally, it highlights the Institute’s focus on conscious references to the processes of the photographic medium itself. In addition to photographs by Moholy, Callahan, and Siskind, the book showcases works by Barbara Crane, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Joseph Jachna, Kenneth Josephson, Gyorgy Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Ray K. Metzker, Richard Nickel, Arthur Siegel, Art Sinsabaugh, and many others. Major essays from experts in the field, biographies, a chronology, and reprints of critical essays are also included, making Taken by Design an essential work for anyone interested in the history of American photography.

Taken By Design was organized by The Art Institute of Chicago.

272 pages
20 color plates + 250 halftones
8 ½ x 12 inches
ISBN: 0-226-81167-0