“Peru 400,” a photograph by Aaron Siskind, is a quintessential example of Abstract Expressionism, a movement that Siskind was closely associated with. Created in 1983, this piece exemplifies the artist’s mature style, where he moved away from his earlier documentary work and embraced abstraction. Siskind’s approach to photography during this period emphasized the flatness of the picture plane and focused on textural details, line, and form to create images that stand on their own as abstract compositions, independent of their original subjects.
Siskind’s artistic journey began in earnest in 1932 when he started to photograph while teaching English in the New York City public-school system. His early work was part of the socially conscious Photo League, documenting neighborhood life during the Depression. However, by the late 1940s and early 1950s, his work had taken a turn towards the abstract, influencing the avant-garde art scene in America.
By the time “Peru 400” was created, Siskind had long established himself as a significant figure in American photography. He had served as a photography instructor and head of the department at Chicago’s Institute of Design from 1961 to 1971 and continued to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design alongside Harry Callahan until the late 1970s.
“Peru 400” is not just a photograph; it is a visual exploration that blurs the line between photography and painting. It is a testament to Siskind’s belief in the power of photography to not just represent reality but to transform it into something new and profoundly artistic. This work, along with others from Siskind’s oeuvre, can be found in the best visual art databases and has been widely exhibited, reflecting his enduring legacy in the world of abstract expressionist photography.