|Dates: ||1880, 26 January - 1962, August|
|Born: ||England, London|
|Died: ||US, TX|
Approved biography for Arthur Hammond
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)
Hammond was deeply involved in pictorial photography from the 1910s into the 1950s. He helped edit American Photography, wrote many articles and an important book on composition, and made his own pictures, which were widely exhibited.
Arthur Hammond was born in London, on January 26, 1880. He moved to New York in 1908 and two years later settled in Boston, where he remained for most of his life. As a professional photographer, he specialized in home portraits of children, usually using soft-focus lenses. In 1927, he went to Chicago for a few years to direct the home-study courses of the American School of Photography.
Hammond contributed substantially to the photographic literature of the time, writing on portraiture, technique, and pictorialism. His long career as an author began in April 1910, when an article he wrote on night photography appeared in Camera magazine. In 1918, he became associate editor of American Photography (this country’s leading photographic monthly), a position he held for about forty years (minus his stint in Chicago). During the 1930s and 1940s, he contributed articles to and edited long-running columns for the monthly and its sister publication, the American Annual of Photography. He retired from the magazine along with its editor, Frank R. Fraprie, in 1949. After this time, American Photography and thePSA Journal carried occasional articles by him.
Hammond also wrote a handful of technical books, sometimes in conjunction with Fraprie. His most important title, however, was his own Pictorial Composition in Photography, a basic text on composition, technique, and pictorialism. This enduring volume first appeared in 1920 and remained in print for more than twenty-five years, going through four editions.
Hammond was a practicing pictorialist, creating and exhibiting artistic photographs for at least thirty years. He joined the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union Camera Club in 1910 and two years later had a one-person exhibition at the Boston Camera Club. He exhibited in salons from as early as 1913, when his work was seen in the Ninth American Photographic Salon, to the late 1940s. His most prolific season was 1934-35, when more than fifty salons accepted 148 of his prints. In 1944, the Smithsonian Institution presented a solo show of his work.
Semi-Lunar was one of Hammond’s most successful salon photographs. Made at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, it is as modern as pictorial images get. Its subject—the fair’s Perisphere—was the epitome of contemporary, art-deco architecture. Hammond rendered the Perisphere strategically lit, sharply focused, and without visual clutter, making the picture a triumph of photographic minimalism.
Hammond’s stature among pictorialists led him to participate in numerous organizations. He was active in camera clubs in Boston and served as treasurer and print director of the New England Council of Camera Clubs in 1941. He was a charter member of the Photographic Society of America, which awarded him with fellowship status (FPSA) in 1946. He was also frequently called upon to judge salons, primarily in the Northeast.
Suffering from chronic obstructive lung disease late in life, Hammond sought climates that would ease his labored breathing. He resided in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Marianna Florida, and finally settled in Portland, Texas, around 1945. According to David M. Monsees, Jr., who, as a young child knew Hammond as an old man, the photographer generated a meager income by writing crossword puzzles; he died penniless, and was buried in the Monsees family plot in Gregory, Texas, in August 1962.
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 1 June 2013.
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