I am seeking biographical information on Aaron Scharf, much published art historian, champion of photography as art and author of the important 'Art and Photography' (1968). Little information on this ground-breaking pioneer of photo-history can be obtained. What I can find, I have placed on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Scharf and am seeking your assistance in either updating and completing that entry or sending information you may have to me via this discussion or by email.

Thank you!

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  • Thank you for joining the conversation Larry. I'm glad you aren't dead (!), but am sorry that you never had the chance to actually meet Aaron Scharf. I'm grateful to have your anecdotes about him. James

  • I fear that I can contribute only trivia about Aaron Scharf.  Starting in the 1970s, back in the snail-mail days, we periodically exchanged mis-directed post.  With five letters in our first names (I never was a Lawrence) and very similar last names, even though our work in photographic history was very different, mixups were bound to occur.  Indeed, I recently had a brief "I thought you were dead" moment in New York at an opening, until the young woman realized the confusion.  I started to insert my middle initial 'J' to break the visual pattern in publication, and this seemed to work, for our prisoner exchanges dropped off.  In late 1997, the conscientious lawyer who had purchased our old house on the other side of Baltimore tracked me down and gave me a ring to say he had a piece of foreign post for me.  It was from Aaron, who had sent it to my last known address, and was the invitation to speak at "Les Multiples Inventions de la Photographie." His invitation had come from Paris to Baltimore and I had just sent it on to Norfolk; they must have crossed over the Atlantic. We looked forward to meeting for the first time on this stage, but sadly ill health intervened and he had to cancel.  We never met face to face, but I think of him often as I continue the practice of inserting the 'J'.    Larry

  • Thank you again Michael. I assume the son is Tom Scharf? Working from here in Australia it may be hard to get records. I hope there are other members of British photographic history who feel, as I do, that Aaron Scharf deserves better recognition. 

  • I have his Pioneers of Photography book. No picture of him in it but he had one son who presumably would still be alive. 

  • Thank you for your very prompt and helpful reply Michael!

    Yes Bill Jay's tribute seems to provide the most information. I have incorporated that and will include the 'Masterpiece' exhibition you have found. There are several articles by him in The Burlington, his column in Creative Camera, and I've just discovered a couple in 'History of Photography' where he appears on the  editorial board over the years 1987-1989.

    I'm hoping someone will be able to provide a portrait of him. 

  • Scharf selected the exhibits for the RPS exhibition: Masterpiece: An Exhibition of Photographs from The Collection of the Royal Photographic Society which was an Arts Council touring exhibition that opened on 6 November 1971. Scharf also wrote a statement for the catalogue. See The Photographic Journal, November 1971, p. 426. There had been a note in the Journal (July 1970, p. 278) stating that the Arts Council was considering appointing Scharf to organise the exhibition. 

  • Bill Jay published a personal reminiscence in Creative Camera which is available online http://www.billjayonphotography.com/Aaron%20Scharf.pdf

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