Elisofon, Eliot

views updated


ELISOFON, ELIOT (1911–1973), U.S. photographer. Born in New York, the first generation of his Latvian Jewish family in America, Elisofon grew up in poverty and he later developed an immense sympathy for the victims of the cataclysms he witnessed and photographed in traveling two million miles across six continents. He became a professional photographer in 1935 after graduating from Fordham University. He depended on commercial work until 1939 when the Museum of Modern Art hired him as its first staff photographer. By the following year he had transformed himself into an energetic and committed photojournalist, artist, activist, teacher, lecturer, and writer. His still work ranged from war reportage and social photojournalism to food and glamour photography. He focused often on art and architecture of ancient cultures, and he loved Africa as a subject. He covered the London blitz, and as a staff photographer for Life magazine, he accompanied United States troops to North Africa. As a Hollywood color consultant, he created the mood-inducing hues of the film Moulin Rouge. Exhibitions of his paintings, often with his photographs, were held in leading museums and galleries throughout the world. He contributed to many books, including The Art of Indian Asia: Its Mythologies and Transformations (1955), The Sculpture of Africa (1958), and The Nile (1964), a work involving years of research.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]