|Dates: ||1897, 17 October - 1974, 9 November|
|Born: ||Sweden, Stockholm|
|Died: ||US, UT, Salt Lake City|
American pictorialist with a recognized mastery for taking photographs of snow. Particularly active in the 1930s and 1940s.
Approved biography for Gustav Anderson
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)
Gustav Anderson was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 17, 1897. He grew up in a country village, where he loved winter and learned to ski competitively. By the age of fourteen, he was working in a photo-engraving shop and studying art at night school. He subsequently worked in the Swedish film industry, where he reportedly hand-developed the first Greta Garbo film. After immigrating to the United States in about 1925, he worked for nearly the rest of his life as a photoengraver in New York.
Anderson was known among pictorialists exclusively for his snow photographs. He had made snapshots during his Swedish childhood but didn’t begin making artistic photographs until he had been in this country for a decade. In 1934, he took a photography class at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences under Adolf Fassbender, who inspired him to look creatively at his favorite subject—the outdoors in winter.
Beginning in 1928, Anderson lived in Amityville, New York (on Long Island), then a largely rural village that provided both numerous subjects and a home base for his photographic skiing adventures. Over the next twenty years, he photographed much of the environs of Amityville, always under a blanket of show and often at sub-zero temperatures. He made his best known photograph, Winter Eve, while on a skiing trip to Canada in 1938; this classic example of the accessibility of traditional pictorial images appeared on the cover of the December 25, 1938, issue of the New York Times Magazine. Anderson also wrote articles on snow photography that appeared in Photo-Art Monthly (March 1937), Camera (December 1943), and Popular Photography (February 1948).
Anderson was a relatively modest salon exhibitor who showed for less than a decade, from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s. But outside the salon system his work was reproduced perhaps more than any other pictorialist during the 1940s and 1950s. Anderson made a concerted effort to market his snow pictures for commercial us and once even tried, unsuccessfully, to live off the resulting income. A New York picture agency handled his photographs, selling them for editorial, advertising, and promotional purposes. They appeared on such items as Christmas cards from the Prudential Insurance Company and the covers of specialty magazines life Revere Patriot. His pictures also were featured in a large photomural installed at Amityville’s Security National Bank.
In 1972 Anderson and his wife moved to Salt Lake City to be near their only child, Stella. He died there of cancer two years later, on November 9, 1974.
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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