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Finding aid for the Edmund Teske papers, 1933-1996
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/ Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Materials note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edmund Teske papers
    Date (inclusive): 1933-1996
    Number: 2005.M.10
    Creator/Collector: Teske, Edmund, 1911-1996
    Physical Description: 21.6 linear feet (36 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The papers document Edmund Teske's life and work as a photographer, poet and teacher. Materials include correspondence informative of Teske's relationships with his family, colleagues and critics; poetry and writings about photography and philosophy; exhibition materials; newspaper clippings and journal articles; teaching files; interview recordings and transcripts; and photographic materials.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/ Historical Note

    Edmund Teske was an American photographer, poet and teacher who gained prominence through his work photographing the Taliesin Fellowship of Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Chicago in 1911, Teske studied art, acting and set design. A primarily self-taught photographer, he had his first formal photography exhibition at the Blackstone Theatre, Chicago, in 1933. While employed at a commercial photography studio in Chicago, he was exposed to the work of a number of prominent contemporary photographers and artists, including Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Anton Bruehl, Man Ray, and Georgia O'Keeffe.
    In 1936 Teske visited Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin workshop in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and was invited to become a member of the Fellowship. While there, he set up his first photographic studio and was instrumental in chronicling some of Wright's early buildings. Teske taught briefly at the New Bauhaus School of Design in Chicago, and also worked for a time with Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz's anti-fascist company, Frontier Films. During World War II, Teske performed aerial mapping for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1943 he traveled to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West Studio in Scottsdale, Arizona, once more photographing the Fellowship.
    Teske moved to Los Angeles in 1943, where he initially worked as a still photographer for Paramount Pictures. He became a close friend and assistant to Aline Barnsdall, for whom Frank Lloyd Wright had completed three structures including Olive Hill Studio Residence B where Teske lived. In 1949, after Residence B was slated for demolition, Teske moved to Topanga Canyon. Among his friends and associates were Minor White, Aaron Siskind, George Herms, sculptor Tony Smith and his actress wife Jane Lawrence, and Richard DeMille, son of movie director Cecil B. DeMille.
    In 1958 Teske developed the technique of duotone solarization, a method that reversed highlight and shadow, which became characteristic of much of his work. Teske's work has been exhibited widely at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pasadena Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Ceeje Gallery in Los Angeles. He taught at the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles (now the California Institute for the Arts) and other institutions. In the 1970s and 1980s Teske also became known for his "photo-grabs," which were informal auctions of his work in his studio to friends, associates and former students. Teske died in 1996.

    Administrative Information


    To access physical materials on site, go to the library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for access policy .

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Edmund Teske papers, 1933-1996, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2005.M.10


    Acquired in 2005 from Lawrence Bump and Nils Vidstrand.

    Processing History

    Sheila Prospero initially processed the archive in 2005. Emmabeth Nanol further processed and arranged the archive and wrote the finding aid in 2009-2010 under the supervision of Andra Darlington.

    Separated Materials note

    A complete edition of Semina 5 has been transferred to the library's core collection and can be found in the library catalog. 

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers provide both an overview of, and unique insight into Teske's creative processes, influences and relationships. In Series I, correspondents include Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Strand, Edgar Tafel, and Aline Barnsdall. Of particular note are fourteen letters from Minor White, in which he provides an in-depth assessment of Teske's aesthetic development. Teske's correspondence also chronicles his interactions with museums and galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the George Eastman House, and the Witkin Gallery. Series I also includes personal documents, sketches and ephemera.
    Professional files in Series II relate to Teske's exhibitions from 1960 to 1995, his photo-grabs in the 1970s, and his teaching and speaking engagements from 1960 to 1991. Materials include exhibition ephemera, correspondence, loan agreements, newspaper clippings, course catalogs, enrollment lists and workshop ephemera.
    Series III contains writings by Teske, recordings and transcripts of interviews, and writings and artworks by others. Among Teske's writings are poetry from 1940 to 1980, a six-volume draft of his autobiography, and essays on photography written between 1939 and the 1970s. Interviews date primarily to the 1970s and 1980s. Among the published and unpublished writings and artworks by other artists are materials by Edward Weston, Bob Alexander, mail art from Wallace Berman, and invitations to George Herms's Tap City Circus events.


    Organized in three series: Series I. Correspondence and personal files, 1933-1996, undated; Series II. Professional files, 1958-1996, undated; Series III. Writings, interviews and artworks, 1933-1993, undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Teske, Edmund, 1911-1996

    Subjects - Topics

    Photography, Artistic

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Motion pictures (visual works)
    Sound recordings


    Alexander, Bob
    Barnsdall, Aline, 1882-1946
    Berman, Wallace, 1926-1976
    Herms, George, 1935-
    Strand, Paul, 1890-1976
    Tafel, Edgar
    Weston, Edward, 1886-1958
    White, Minor
    Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959