Friday, January 05, 2007

Maybe it’s the toner

The passing of Ruth Bernhard last month at the prime age of 101 (see my December 21 post) left me pondering through the holidays the remarkable longevity of the great modernist photographers. By my reckoning, there is something in either the lifestyle or the chemical exposure of black-and-white photography that offers a fountain of youth to us all. Excluding combat photographers (e.g. Robert Capa), the life expectancy of this esteemed group is so far beyond the norm as to warrant inquiry by some public health official or PhD candidate. So to get them started, here’s my list of the top 25 by longevity, which would be very close to my list of the top 25 photographers of the 20th century. I’ve included country of birth, to make the point there’s no clear pattern of gender, race or national origin that might be skewing the figures. Photographers noted in bold are still alive, well and I believe working:

Ruth Bernhard (USA) 101
Manuel Alvarez Bravo (Mexico) 100
Alfred Eisenstaedt (Prussia) 96
Henri Cartier-Bresson (France) 95
Lotti Jacobi (Germany) 94
Edward Steichen (Luxembourg) 94
Helen Levitt (USA) 93
Imogen Cunningham (USA) 93
Bernice Abbott (USA) 93
Gordon Parks (USA) 93
Horst P. Horst (Germany) 93
Frederick Sommer (Italy) 93
Yousef Karsh (Canada) 93
Andreas Feininger (France) 92
Jacques-Henri Lartigue (France) 92
Andre Kertesz (Hungary) 91
Irving Penn (USA) 89
Aaron Siskind (USA) 88
August Sander (Germany) 87
Harry Callahan (USA) 87
Roy DeCarava (USA) 87
Man Ray (USA) 86
Paul Strand (USA) 86
Brassai (Transylvania) 85
Hiroshi Hamaya (Japan) 84

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