Siskind is one of the leading figures in the evolution of modern photography. He received a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the College of the City of New York in 1926. After graduating, he earned his living teaching English in the New York public school system. Since fine art photography was not being taught in colleges, Siskind learned his photography skills by repeatedly practicing on making exposures and print photographs. He joined the politically conscious and socially active Photo League group in New York City and gained notoriety for his documentary style of photography. Ordinary people from the streets of New York were his subjects in these early works. By 1943 he moved in another direction with encouragement from some of his fellow artists. These artists called themselves the New York School but later became known as Abstract Expressionists. This group of friends included Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. His friends from this group offered Siskind the kind of support he needed to pursue this new direction in his work. No other photographers were working in the abstract style at this time. He learned not only to share his new work with his friends, but also to bounce ideas around with them. He developed a new mode of abstraction that was somewhat similar to the gestural works of the Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline. These new photographs had a powerful and stark appearance. Viewers of these new photographs learned to experience and interpret new visual forms. Often the spectator found himself pondering what these new visual forms suggested. Soon viewers discovered the relationships that existed between the forms, and a whole new visual language in photography opened up.