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Van Dyke, Willard (Ames) 1906-1986

Van DYKE, Willard (Ames) 1906-1986

PERSONAL: Born December 5, 1906, in Denver, CO; died January 23, 1986, in Jackson, TN; married Mary Gray Bennett, 1938 (divorced, 1950); married Margaret Barbara Murray Milikin, 1950; children: (first marriage) Alison, Peter; (second marriage) Murray, Cornelius. Education: University of California.

CAREER: Independent social documentary photographer, 1930-86; independent filmmaker, San Francisco, CA, 1930-45, New York, NY, 1945-81, Santa Fe, NM, 1981-86; Group f/64, San Francisco, founding member, 1932; Public Works Administration Art Project, San Francisco, CA, photographer, 1934; Harper's Bazaar, New York, NY, photographer, 1935; The River, film cameraman, 1936-37; Office of War Information, Washington, DC, film section technical director, 1940-45; Affiliated Film Producers, New York, NY, producer, 1946-58; Van Dyke Productions Inc., New York, NY, president, 1958-81; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, film department director, 1965-72; State University of New York, Purchase, NY, professor, 1972-77, professor emeritus, 1977-86. Exhibitions: Work included in collections at Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY; Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, MA; Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, Detroit, MI; Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; San Diego Museum of Art, Oakland Museum, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

AWARDS, HONORS: First prize, Camera Craft, 1927; Silver Cup, George Eastman House, 1978.


(With Jean S. Tucker) Group f/64, [St. Louis, MO], 1978.

(Author of introduction) Ralph Steiner, A Point ofView, [Middletown, CT], 1978.


(With Ralph Steiner) The City, soundtrack by Aaron Copeland, American Institute of Planners, 1939.

Valley Town, 1940.

The Children Must Learn, 1940.

Sarah Lawrence, 1940.

To Hear Your Banjo Play, 1941.

Tall Tales, 1941.

The Bridge, 1942.

Oswego, 1943.

Steeltown, 1943.

Pacific Northwest, 1944.

San Francisco (official film on founding of the United Nations), 1945.

Journey into Medicine, 1946.

The Photographer, 1947.

This Charming Couple, 1949.

Mount Vernon, 1949.

Year of Change, 1950.

New York University, 1952.

Working and Playing to Health, 1953.

There Is a Season, 1954.

Recollections of Boyhood, 1954.

(With Angel Rivera) Cabos Blancos, 1954.

Excursion House, 1954.

Life of the Molds, 1957.

(With Shirley Clarke) Skyscraper, 1958.

Tiger Hunt in Assam, 1958.

Mountains of the Moon, 1958.

Land of White Alice, 1959.

The Procession, 1959.

Ireland: The Tear and the Smile, 1960.

Sweden, 1960.

So That Men Are Free, 1962.

Harvest, 1962.

Depressed Area, 1963.

(With Wheaton Galentine) Rice, 1964.

Frontiers of News, 1964.

Pop Buell: Hoosier Farmer in Laos, 1965.

Taming the Mekong, 1965.

(With Roger Barlow) The Farmer: Feast of Famine, 1965.

Frontline Camera 1935-1965, 1965.

Shape of Films to Come, 1968.

SIDELIGHTS: Willard Van Dyke was a self-taught photographer and filmmaker who photographed a wide variety of subjects, including people, buildings, and nature. In 1932 Van Dyke, along with fellow photographers Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Ansel Adams, formed the photography group called Group f/64 in San Francisco, California.

Van Dyke produced more than forty documentary films between 1939 and 1968. His films, on a variety of subjects, and were commissioned for such companies and organizations as the Office of War Information, the United Church of Christ, the Ford Motor Company, and television shows such as Omnibus, High Adventure, and Twentieth Century.

His film The City, about the development of—and the need for—cities that are people friendly, was produced with Ralph Steiner for the American Institute of Planners. It was first shown at the World's Fair in New York in 1939. Van Dyke and Steiner helped to increase the knowledge of and popularity of documentary films with the showing of The City. According to a contributor in International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, a New York Herald-Tribune critic stated: "Already several thousand persons have seen The City, many of whom had never before seen a documentary film, and it may be predicted that its cordial reception by critics and public alike will benefit greatly the already widening beginnings of the documentary form in this country."



International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2, Directors, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.



Time, February 3, 1986, p. 66.*

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