The Art of Frederick Sommer
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This book - published in the centenary of the artist's birth - chronicles the extraordinary life and work of Frederick Sommer (1905-1999). One of the great masters and key innovators in the history of photography, Sommer was a complex and creative individual. His work in photography is unconventional and fascinating for its wide range of methodologies and techniques, from his embrace of the large-format camera and exquisite print quality to his use of constructed subjects and synthetic negatives. Sommer also made masterful drawings, watercolors, musical scores, and collages. These varied works are united by the vitality of his creative imagination - his unparalleled ability to explore, stretch, and blend the possibilities of his chosen media.
Sommer began his career as a landscape architect. He purchased his first camera in 1930, while recovering from tuberculosis in Switzerland. Arriving in Arizona in 1931, Sommer abandoned his original profession and began painting and drawing. After meeting Alfred Stieglitz in 1935 and Edward Weston in 1936, Sommer's interest in photography deepened and he quickly became a master of the medium. Other artists who later proved inspirational to Sommer included Precisionist painter and photographer Charles Sheeler, Surrealist artist Max Ernst, and photographer Aaron Siskind.
With an essay by photo historian Keith F. Davis, reproductions of Sommer's diverse works, and a detailed chronology of his life by April M. Watson, The Art of Frederick Sommer describes and documents the full scope of the artist's achievement as a twentieth-century visionary. The book is a revelation for scholars, artists, students, and everyone who appreciates the power of art to transform, transcend, and inspire.
Keith F. Davis is Hallmark Fine Art Programs director and visiting research professor of art history, University of Missouri, Kansas City. Michael Torosian is proprietor of Lumiere Press, Canada. April M. Watson is research associate and adjunct professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Missouri, Kansas City.