John Szarkowski was an American photographer and curator best known for his role as the director of the Museum of Modern Art’s Photography Department from 1962 through 1991. “Photography is the easiest thing in the world if one is willing to accept pictures that are flaccid, limp, bland, banal, indiscriminately informative, and pointless,” he once explained. “But if one insists in a photograph that is both complex and vigorous it is almost impossible.” Born Thaddeus John Szarkowski on December 18, 1925 in Ashland, WI, he went on receive a degree in art history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1948. After working as a museum photographer at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, he moved to Buffalo to teach photography. The artist then relocated to Chicago, where he worked on his photobook The Idea of Louis Sullivan (1956). After his appointment at MoMA in 1962, Szkarowski would help launch the careers of Diane ArbusLee Friedlander, and William Eggleston, among several others during his tenure. He also published acclaimed books on the history of photography, including The Photographer’s Eye (1966) and Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (1973). After retiring from the museum in 1991, Szarkowski resumed his own career in photography. He died on July 7, 2007 in Pittsfield, MA. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, among others.