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Max Waldman

Text from The Photography Encyclopedia

Waldman, Max (1919-1981): American portrait photographer

Waldman's black-and-white photographs of theater and dance performances were simply composed, yet dramatic in their ability to emphasize the performers' movement or emotion with clarity and sympathy.

Born in Manhattan to Austrian immigrant parents, Waldman worked for the government-sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps, where he started photographing. He later went to Buffalo State Teachers College and the Albright Art School (1939-1943). In 1944 he returned to New York City and studied sculpting at the Art Students League. He became a successful commercial photographer from 1949 to 1965, specializing in fashion, industrial, and advertising photography. In the latter year he established his 17th Street studio, where he started his quest "to photograph only what I wanted." Among his first subjects were his friends the actors Zero Mostel and Morris Carnovsky, and the mime Marcel Marceau. His first published book of photographs, Zero by Mostel appeared in 1965.

With the publication of Waldman on Theater (1971), his reputation was established. He was awarded two Creative Artists Public Service grants (1971 and 1976) and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1972. In 1970 Life magazine assigned Waldman to photograph Natalia Makarova, prima ballerina of the Kirov Ballet. The assignment sparked his longtime interest in the dance world. His photographs were widely published in photography and general interest magazines and in Waldman on Dance (1977). His dance photographs were his most successful financially.

He exhibited his photographs in numerous group and one man shows at such venues as the New York Public Library, the La Jolla Museum of Art, and the Rose Museum of Brandeis University. His work is held by major private and public collections, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the George Eastman House.


 

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