The Museum of Fine Arts’, St. Petersburg, located at 255 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg, latest exhibition is of Aaron Siskind’s Harlem Document. On display now through July 20, lovers of photography and of history won’t want to miss early 20th century Harlem seen through the eyes of a lens.
An American master, Aaron Siskind (1903-1991) is known for both his early documentary and later abstract photographs. A New Yorker, he was drawn to life in Harlem in the 1930s: people on the streets and in churches, rented rooms, juke joints and clubs.
They convey struggle and poverty, but also hope and transcendence. His lifelong fascination with architecture and surfaces emerges in images of tenements and storefronts. His “Harlem Document” now stands as one of his signature achievements. His humanity and empathy are everywhere evident.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum presented Harlem: Photographs by Aaron Siskind, 1932-1940, in a 1990-1991 exhibition shortly before the artist’s death.
Gordon Parks, the illustrious African-American photographer, filmmaker, author, and composer, wrote the eloquent foreword to the book accompanying the show. Parks, who grew up in Harlem, observed: “To just about everyone who has worked in the vital processes of its survival, whose life has been textured by its tradition, Harlem is a place that won’t give up … Good music, prayer and laughter are still in the air—and so are the songs of the fish peddler and watermelon man.”
Siskind’s work has been recognized as a precursor of Abstract Expressionism. Elaine de Kooning called him “a painter’s photographer.” The major exhibition, Siskind in the Collection (1989), at the Museum of Modern Art cast him as one of the leading figures in the development of photography as an art form. Centennial shows at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Princeton University Art Museum celebrated his enormous contributions and importance.
The Museum is open 10-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. On Thursday from 10-8 p.m., and noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is only “5 after 5” on Thursday. Regular admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those 65 and older, and $10 for students seven and older, including college students with current I.D. Children under seven and Museum members are admitted free.
Groups of 10 or more adults pay only $12 per person and children $4 each with prior reservations. For more information, please call 727-896-2667 or visit www.fine-arts.org.