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Subject: Carole Kismaric, photography book editor

New York
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Date Posted: November 20, 2002 9:38:44 EDT

Carole Kismaric, an innovative editor and book packager who helped start the Time-Life Photography Series and for 10 years was editorial director of the Aperture Foundation, a nonprofit publisher of fine-art photography books, died yesterday at her home in New York. She was 60 and died from pancreatic cancer, her sister, Susan Kismaric, said.

While at Aperture, from 1976 to 1985, Ms. Kismaric was a force in changing the face of photography book publishing. At the start of her tenure, books of fine-art photography including Aperture's generally reproduced one picture per page, without caption or text and surrounded by a frame of white space, as if it were a framed print.

Working with the Aperture designer Wendy Byrne and others, she helped usher in a more flexible, magazine-influenced design approach, in which pictures might be reproduced across two pages and combined with text.

But her purpose was more than a matter of presentation: she sought to demonstrate how books of artistically bold pictures could also yield social and political meanings beyond the purview of art and thus appeal to broad audiences.

To further demonstrate how thoroughly photographs are ingrained in contemporary culture, in 1991 she joined with Marvin Heiferman, an independent curator and writer, to create Lookout, a partnership that developed and produced exhibitions and publications.

Among the exhibitions Lookout produced were "Talking Pictures," a 1994 traveling exhibition that allowed museum visitors to listen to prerecorded commentaries about how the pictures had influenced the speakers' lives, and "Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution," a 2000 exhibition at Exit Art in New York that focused on artists' responses to the promise and perils of genetic research. Together with "Fame After Photography," commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, and "To the Rescue: Artists in an Archive," a project based on the archive of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, these exhibitions were noted for their conceptual ingenuity and popular appeal.

Among the books produced by Ms. Kismaric and Mr. Heiferman under the Lookout name were "Frida Kahlo: The Camera Seduced" (Chronicle Books, 1992); "Fay's Fairy Tales: Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood," by William Wegman (Hyperion, 1993); and "Love is Blind" (PowerHouse, 1997). In addition, as publications director of the P.S. 1 Museum since 1985, Ms. Kismaric developed books on the artists John Coplans, David Hammons and Jack Smith.

Carole Kismaric was born on April 28, 1942, in Orange, N.J. As a student at Penn State University she majored in psychology, but after graduation in 1964 she pursued a career as a newspaper reporter. Time-Life Books hired her as a picture researcher in 1970. As an associate editor, she helped develop the Time-Life Photography Series and edited five of its titles.

In 1974 Ms. Kismaric collaborated with John Szarkowski, then director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, on the exhibition "From the Picture Press." The show consisted entirely of pictures pictures made for publication in newspapers and magazines.

When she joined Aperture in 1976, it was still associated with the aesthetic of its founding editor, the photographer Minor White. Working with Michael Hoffman, Aperture's publisher, she developed and edited more than 50 titles, including "Diane Arbus: Magazine Work," "The Eloquent Light" by Ansel Adams, "Telex Iran" by Gilles Peress, and "Social Graces" by Larry Fink.

She also edited the quarterly magazine called Aperture, introducing to its pages a wide range of contemporary photographs far removed from the journal's traditional artistic roots.

After leaving Aperture in 1986, Ms. Kismaric struck out on her own and produced an exhibition and book, "Forced Out: The Agony of the Refugee in Our Time" (1989), under the auspices of the J. M. Kaplan Fund and Human Rights Watch. In 1990 she began teaching in the graduate photography program of the School of Visual Arts.

Ms. Kismaric was married to Charles Mikolaycak, a children' book illustrator. Mr. Mikolaycak died in 1993. She is survived by her sister, Susan.

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