Alfred Gescheidt (19 Dec. 1926 - 22 Jan. 2012); American photographer. He specialized in photomontage, and worked primarily in commercial and advertising photography.

Born in Queens, NY, he graduated with honors from The High School of Music & Art in 1944 and went to the Art Students League of New York on a scholarship. He studied there with Will Barnet and Harry Sternberg before being drafted into the US Navy in 1945. After completing his required year of military service, Gescheidt enrolled at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he studied with Raymond Jonson. In 1949, having decided to become a photographer, he transferred to the Art Center School in Los Angeles, where he studied commercial photography with Will Connell and George Hoyningen-Huene.

...In 1964 he collaborated with Frank Jacobs on the book 30 Ways to Stop Smoking, which featured 30 of Gescheidt's manipulated photographs. The photographs, which display what The New Yorker called "Gescheidt's poster-ready Pop surrealism", delivering a "bracingly vulgar, subversive punch", were shown at the New York gallery Higher Pictures in 2013.

Among his most successful posters was "Ronbo", published in 1985, which combined the head of a smiling President Ronald Reagan with the body of the movie character Rambo....

An early success was a parody of Grant Wood's American Gothic with Ronald and Nancy Reagan as the farmer and his daughter. According to the card's publisher, it had sold 1.5 million copies by 1982. American Gothic was a favorite and continuing theme of Gescheidt...

...Gescheidt was described by John Durniak, a NY Times picture editor, as "the Charlie Chaplin of the camera". Howard Chapnick of the Black Star photo agency characterized him as a practitioner of "surrealistic photography", and as such superior to Man Ray for his "ingenuity, madness, outrageousness and humor".

Alfred Gescheidt died in New York City on 22 January 2012.
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Jaak Mortelmans


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