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Marie Cosindas, Pioneer of Color Photography, Dies at 93

Marie Cosindas, Aspargus I, 1967.

COURTESY BRUCE SILVERSTEIN GALLERY

Marie Cosindas, an early pioneer of color photography whose work blurred the line between could be produced by a paintbrush and what could be accomplished using a camera, has died. She was 93.

Before William Eggleston revolutionized the field by introducing hues that had rarely ever been seen before, Cosindas had become among the first photographers to experiment with color. Featuring a wide variety of subjects, from an arrangement of dolls to a portrait of Andy Warhol wearing sunglasses, her work had a painterly quality to it, and her style was praised for its softness.

One of her champions was John Szarkowski, the Museum of Modern Art photography curator who, in 1966, gave Cosindas her first solo show. (The exhibition also made Cosindas the fifth female photographer ever to have shown at MoMA.) Having garnered critical recognition in the 1960s, her work faded into obscurity in the decades afterward, only to experience a newfound interest in her work late in her career after a 2013 retrospective at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cosindas was born in 1925, to a Greek-American family that included ten children. She went to school for painting and later went on to work with black and white photography while studying with Ansel Adams. In 1962, Polaroid was searching for photographers to try using its new Polacolor film, and Cosindas became one of the first to use it. The writer Tom Wolfe wrote in 1978 that it was “as if [Cosindas] had pulled back a curtain and suddenly brought back into the world of art a sense of color that had not been seen since the turn of the century in the era of the Symbolists, the Vienna Secession, and Art Nouveau.”

Correction 06/1/2017, 10:33 a.m.: An earlier version of this article misstated Cosindas's age. She was 93—not 91, as reported widely elsewhere but since corrected by the artist's family.

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