US NBP 2012.MARIS-F47
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William Austin Maris was born at his maternal grandmother’s house in Woodside, Queens, on October 28, 1924. Shortly after his birth, his mother returned with him to the family home in Steubenville Ohio. Maris’ father, Constantine Maris, had opened a photo studio in the 1920s, where his artistically-inclined mother, a photographer, printed in the studio’s darkroom, hand painted photographs and also designed and made costumes and backgrounds. Indeed, the entire Maris family was creative – his sister Minerva Maris Wagner would later become a professional photographer with the Miami Herald; another sister, Helen Maris, was also an artist . The young Bill Maris took up photography early on, recalling that by the age of seven he and his sister Minerva had begun setting up a large format camera on the street (no doubt supplied by his father’s studio) in order to photograph passersby. Maris graduated from high school during World War II and enlisted in the army as a photographer. Following the war, he relocated to the Lower East Side in New York, where he soon joined a professional and social circle of artists and photographers. He was loosely connected with the Photo League at this time, and made use of their accessible darkrooms. This period in New York would become a formative one for Maris politically, culturally and artistically, and from the late 1940s on, his work was concentrated in and around the city. In the early 1950s, Maris met his future business partner, former architecture student-turned master photographer Ezra Stoller, noted for elevating architectural photography to an art form. During their partnership, Maris photographed such landmark structures as the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport (then Idlewild Airport), the Ford Foundation Building, and the Seagram Building. Maris and Stoller continued working together until the mid-1960s when they dissolved their business partnership (though the two remained on friendly terms). During the 1960s and early 1970s, Maris' architectural clients included I.M. Pei, Groupius's firm The Architects’ Collaborative (TAC), Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, Robert A.M. Stern, Julian and Barbara Neski, and Norman Jaffe, among others. He also completed numerous magazine assignments, primarily on the East Coast, for publications such as House & Garden, House Beautiful, and Traditional Home. His commercial clients included IBM and Avon Corporation. He also photographed the works of architects and designers Norman Foster, Michael Graves, Eero Saarinen and Frank Gehry, in addition to interior designers such as Jack Lenore Larsen and Timo Sarpaneva. Maris’ work has been acquired by institutions such as the Yale University Art Gallery and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s architecture and design collection. Maris died in New York, New York, on December 16, 1986.
Name of creator
Julie Semel was born in July 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University. She had a brief career in social work before beginning work with Bill Maris in 1969 when he hired her as an assistant. Over the subsequent years, Semel's creative role expanded to include collaboration on photographic works. They were married in 1977. Many of the photographs in the Pratt Institute collection are credited to both Semel and Maris as Maris/Semel or as their corporate name, Semarco Inc. Their works frequently constituted as many as 30 pages a month across various publications during the 1970s and 1980s.
Bill Maris passed away unexpectedly on December 16, 1986 in New York City. After Maris's death, Semel continued to photograph products at their Manhattan studio and to produce architectural, garden, and design stories for magazines. In 1998, Semel also began to produce articles and photographic essays for travel industry clients. Her clients have included the national tourism boards of Italy and Germany. She continues to work in the travel photography industry.
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