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20th Century Photographers by George Schaub, Grace Schaub

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6Van Deren Coke

Photographer’s Forum, May 1992

In 1938, at the age of 17, Van Deren Coke (1921–2004), a native of Lexington, Kentucky, was bitten by the photo bug while attending boarding school in Virginia. That same year he joined a local camera club, where Benjamin Hart, a retired chemist, showed the group a collection of original black and white prints by Edward Weston. His infatuation with photography quickly became an obsession that led him to California to seek out Weston, and through Weston, Ansel Adams.

From that time on, Coke’s commitment to photography became a journey that led him into teaching, writing, curating, and becoming involved with creating his own body of work. He can be seen as part of the “Post-Stieglitz/Strand” generation, ...

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