The collection includes Arthur d'Arazien's professional work in industrial photography from the late 1940's through about 1981; personal creative photography and other types of professional work were retained by Mr. d'Arazien or placed elsewhere. Thus this collection is a very cohesive, unified body of work, which documents primarily American (and some Canadian) business and industry during a period of expansion a golden age of American industry. Although it represents the photographer's creative and artistic style and skill, the subject matter is appropriate to the National Museum of American History from several viewpoints the visual documentation of industry and technology, as well as advertising, public relations, and business history.
The photographs include black and white negatives and prints from the negatives, as well as color negative and transparency materials, up to 8" x 10" in size. Probably the majority of the transparencies were made in the large size. The black and white materials include pictures of d'Arazien at work some made by famous Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, a colleague at the Famous Photographers School. A number of Dye Transfer prints mounted on illustration board were made by master color printer Don Browning.
In addition to frequently extensive caption information on all of d'Araziens original envelopes and enclosures, many enclosures for color negatives and transparencies bear d'Arazien labels with technical information or instructions for color printing, such as filter pack designations and local printing controls. These enclosures therefore have been retained in the collection, although usually they are not of archival quality.
Of secondary significance are 62 large color prints, mostly Type C, with a few Cibachromes, which were made from the original transparencies for exhibition purposes. Most were made either by K & L laboratories, New York City (stickers on back) or Eastman Kodak professional laboratories, Rochester, N.Y., and have been wet mounted to non archival Masonite. At the time of acquisition, several had faded and/or changed color. These are available for research and exhibition purposes, but are not expected to survive as long as the original transparencies.
The collection contains Mr. d'Arazien's files of printed materials. These include reproductions which indicate how his photographs were used by clients. Included are annual reports, promotional pieces, magazine tearsheets from advertising and editorial uses, and other biographical items.
Series 1: Professional industrial photographs.
Photographs document primarily American business and industry (including some taken in Canada). Black-and-white negatives with prints from these negatives, also color negative and transparency materials. Most transparencies are 8" x 10". The photographs demonstrate the photographer's reputation as a master of dramatic lighting and the coordination of large-scale, complex industrial setups in factories, steel mills, and even outdoor settings. Also 65 color prints, mostly Type C with a few Cibachromes, made from the original transparencies for exhibition purposes, mostly wet-mounted to Masonite. Black-and-white photographs include pictures of d'Arazien at work--some by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Series 2: D'Arazien's files of printed materials, some of which include photomechanical reproductions of his work, indicating how the photographs were used by clients; also annual reports, magazine tearsheets from advertising and editorial uses, and other promotional items, in addition to biographical materials.
2007 addendum: Transparencies, slides, prints and negatives of additional photographs by Arthur d'Arazien, including industrial subjects as well as travel, architectural, agricultural, portrait, art, still life and personal photographs. Also included are miscellaneous papers, mostly relating to d'Arazien's photographic work.
The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1: Paper Documents
Subseries 1.1: Publications and Reproductions.
Subseries 1.2: Photographer's Labels, Envelopes, Etc.
Series 2: Photographs
Subseries 2.1: Color Phototransparencies
Subseries 2.2: Color Photonegatives and Color Photoprints
Subseries 2.3: Black and White Photonegatives and Photoprints
Subseries 2.4: Color Photoprints: Enlargements Mounted on Masonite
Material is arranged in each sub-series primarily by client names, in alphabetical order.
Series 3: Oversize prints
Biographical / Historical:
Arthur d'Arazien began his photographic career as an assistant to a famous theatrical photographer, documenting Broadway shows. A distinctive emphasis on dramatic lighting in his later work suggests the heavy influence of the theater. He did fashion and commercial photography, as well as photographing the 1939 World's Fair, for Underwood & Underwood Illustration Studios, East 44th St., New York City, in 1938 1939. He was described in a U.S. Camera Annual article as Aan architect whose interest in photography has caused him to make a profession of it.
D'Arazien taught aerial photography for the U.S. Air Corps Technical Training Command at Lowry Field, Denver, during World War II. He began his career in industrial photography with the De Laval Separator Company, New York City. His energy and creativity led to assignments which often were judged too difficult for lesser photographers. His growing reputation as an industrial photographer kept pace with the dynamic growth of the industrial and technological activities he was photographing during the 1950s through the 1980s.
Robert Vogel, former Curator of Mechanical and Civil Engineering for the National Museum of American History, wrote that d'Arazien:
...became internationally known for his dramatic color views of the American industrial scene at a time when our industry can be said to have been at the height of its powers....He was commissioned by the giants of steel, paper, chemicals, machinery, transportation, automobiles, mining, metal refining, textiles, and the other heavy (and medium) industries. ...He developed a number of special techniques for obtaining the grand, sweeping views that became his trademark, including multiple exposures to achieve dramatic lighting effects, elaborate lighting setups involving multiple flashes from several vantages employing a number of assistants intercommunicating by radio, complex arrangements with transportation lines and the various departments of the subject organization to produce the desired juxtaposition of elements in the photograph, and the like. His MO was anything but that of simply walking onto the scene and snapping the shutter; for many of his breathtaking views he appears to have been more producer and impresario than photographer.
Arthur d'Arazien describes the growth of his spectacular style as an eager response to new subjects, challenges, and photographic materials:
...knowing that color was the coming thing in corporate advertising, I pursued that line. I did lots of experimenting; every assignment gave me an opportunity to try something new, such as combination day and night exposures on a single sheet of film, multiple flash bulbs to light large interiors, multiple exposures on the same film, such as...moving objects ...automobiles, trains...to build up excitement in a picture. Colored gels to change colors. I even used old fashioned flash powder to light ...steel mills, because there were no flashbulbs powerful enough to light these dark, cavernous interiors: this idea was borrowed from the Air Corps night time aerial photography with magnesium flash powder.
A skilled painter and metal sculptor as well as photographer, d'Arazien came from a family of artists. His photographs were made primarily on assignment from industrial corporations for advertising, editorial, and public relations purposes, but have been exhibited and collected as works of art in the Smithsonian Institution (Division of Photographic History), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum. His work was included in the Photography in the Fine Arts exhibitions organized by Ivan Dimitri, and he was a founding faculty member of the Famous Photographers School, Westport, Connecticut, in the early 1960's.
D'Arazien married Margaret Scott and has two sons. He had a studio in Waterside Plaza, New York, and made his home in New Canaan, Connecticut, until moving to Naples, Florida, upon his retirement in 1988. The collection was brought to the Smithsonian's attention by his son Steven, and was donated to the Archives Center before this move. In anticipation of this gift, Mr. d'Arazien spent several months inspecting his collection, eliminating duplicate and technically unsuccessful images, and captioning photographs.
American Aces, U.S. Camera Annual 1939. Clipping in scrapbook no. 1, box 24, first page.
Robert M. Vogel, memorandum, undated, but written after a December 1987 visit to d'[Arazien's home.
In Archives Center collection control file.
Letter to the author, 26 February 1992, in collection control file.
Collection donated by Arthur d'Arazien, December 24, 1988.
Collection is open for research but the majority of the collection is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
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