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James A. Rourke Machine Co., Savannah, Georgia, 1936

James A. Rourke Machine Co., Savannah, Georgia, 1936

Peter Sekaer (1901-1934) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and immigrated to the United States in 1918. After successfully operating a printing business in New York City producing posters, advertisements and window displays, he enrolled in the Art Students League in 1929 to study painting. He soon became involved in the New York art scene, befriending, among others, the artist Ben Shahn and the photographer Walker Evans.

By 1934 Sekaer had left painting behind to study photography with Berenice Abbott at the New School for Social Research. Through his friendship with Walker Evans he secured contracts from 1936 to 1943 to work on assignment as a photographer for various government agencies that were created as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal program. In 1945 Sekaer started his own commercial photography business, shooting advertisements and human interest stories for magazines.

In 1950, at age forty-nine, Sekaer suffered a fatal heart attack. His life’s work has been preserved by his wife, Elisabeth Sekaer Rothschild, and their younger daughter, Christina Sekaer.