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A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture Compare and Contrast Essay

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2019

This paper looks at similarities and differences between the photographic work of Aaron Siskind and that of David Duncan. Both photographers hold a preeminent position in the documentation of American photography. Siskind utilized photographs as a means to unveil abstractions. His photographs grew increasingly abstract as he centered sharply and narrowly on the items, he passed in his walks.

He detached the sense of three-dimensional room and the immediate background from his photos and established the mature approach that would brand him as one of the excellent photographers of his time. Duncan, on the other hand, is eminent for his photography work during the Korean War. He captured images during the war and posted them in the life magazine and other places where Americans could access it easily.

The two photographers also shared a vision of a clean and fresh America. Duncan relied on native people for messages on living far from the contaminated present world. His photographs enabled thousands of Americans who — obviously with recollections of the just-concluded World War II spanking in their minds— may have sought nothing other than to cover the carnage being imposed and continued in their name in Korea.

Siskind, on the other hand, used photography as a skylight into the subconscious minds of Americans and a technique to react to the dirty happenings experienced in World War II. Siskind’s main subjects were graffiti and dashes of coats on walls, wallpaper and peeling symbols, together with special trees, nudes and gravel.

Reminiscent of the abstract expressionists, he stressed the horizontal plane of the image surface instead of the picture as illusionistic hole. He regularly harmonized his pictures to plain marks and areas of color. His excellent works are alive with leaping lines and active patterns, but also touching on disintegration and vanishing memories.

He took pictures of putrefying constructions and reflections in broken windowpanes. He examined objects that he discovered on piers, lobster legs and strings of ropes. He marked them and tried to find the correct angles and patterns of the weathered planks. He used surrealist art as a transom into the subconscious of Americans and a way to reflect on the negative impacts of World War II.

Similarly, Duncan’s images from Korea expressed a scorching, inconvenient fact: that is, war is hell, and people still die horrific deaths, although the war in subject should be a “police act. One of Duncan’s best photographs was in 1950, during the forgotten war in Korea. This photo was one of the finest pictures ever made in any clash.

Duncan, in his common volume “This Is War!” described the astounded, rigid Marine chief trying to regain his strength following an assault by North Korean army. Duncan’s philosophy was that war was in the eyes. In its basic, unwavering depiction of the ineffectuality, insanity, stamina and, sometimes, the simple decency one encounters during a firefight or an extended, bloody movement, Duncan’s depiction of Captain Fenton is not comparable with any other work.

Similar to other works of Duncan from Korea, it is ineffaceable. Conversely, Siskind believed in exploring the inner world. He used abstract expressions such as exploring looking images from a horizontal plane rather than three dimensions.

In conclusion, photographic works of both Duncan and Siskind play a central role in American culture, since they represent the happenings experienced in World War II, which is an historical event. However, Siskind used an abstract approach to photography while Duncan captured images during the war.

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IvyPanda. (2019, July 3). A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-photographic-approaches-towards-american-culture/

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"A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture." IvyPanda, 3 July 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-photographic-approaches-towards-american-culture/.

1. IvyPanda. "A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-photographic-approaches-towards-american-culture/.


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IvyPanda. "A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-photographic-approaches-towards-american-culture/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-photographic-approaches-towards-american-culture/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'A Comparison of Photographic Approaches towards American Culture'. 3 July.

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