Arthur Siegel


Arthur Siegel Self-Portrait 1937

“Arthur Siegel (1913-1978) was an American photographer known for his intricate photograms and graphic documentary photography.

He introduced creative ways of back-lighting and projection to achieve abstract, often ethereal forms also experimenting with variations in colour both in these and his more documentary images. The simplicity and conceptual nature of is photographs encourage the viewer to explore the singular characteristics of photography as a medium based on the transference of light.

Siegel studied at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, Detroit where he received his BA in 1936 before teaching photography at the university. In 1937 he was awarded a scholarship at the New Bauhaus (later renamed the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology) to study photography with László Moholy-Nagy.

After returning to Detroit the following year, Siegel worked as a freelance photographer Life, Fortune, and Colliers, and also worked for the Farm Security Administration, the Office of War Information, and the US Army Air Corps.

Siegel met Harry Callahan through the Detroit Camera Club and was later hired by Moholy-Nagy as the director of the newly former photography department of the Institute of Design, where he started the pioneering course New Visions in Photography. He served as head of the program from 1946 until his resignation in 1949. After nearly two decades pursuing commercial work, photojournalism, and color photography projects, he returned to the Institute of Design when Aaron Siskind re-hired him in 1967. He became chair of the photography department in 1971 and continued to practice until his death in 1978.

Born 1913, Detroit.

Attended University of Michigan; BA, Wayne State Univeristy, 1936.

Taught photography, Wayne State University, 1935-37.

Offered scholarship at New Bauhaus by Moholy-Nagy.

Attended New Bauhaus, 1937-38;

studied with Moholy-Nagy and Kepes.

Returned to Detroit and did commercial work.

Freelanced for Life, Fortune, Colliers, and other magazines and for FSA, 1935-42.

Photographer, Office of War Information, 1942-43, and U.S. Army Air Corps, 1944-46.

Returned to Institute of Design, 1946;

head of photography department, 1946-49,

professor of photography, 1951-54, 1963-64, and 1967-78.

Published Chicago’s Famous Houses, 1965.

Died 1978″ (source:

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