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Karl Bissinger
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Cincinnati, Ohio
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
New York City
Bissinger's first connection to photography was when he was a stylist for the studios of Condé Nast Publications, where he developed relationships with some of the portrait and fashion photographers on staff, which included Cecil Beaton, George Hoyningen-Huene, Irving Penn and John Rawlings. He was part of group that shared a residence on Fire Island with Richard Avedon, who lent him a camera and encouraged him to take pictures. His first photographic subjects were Avedon's wife and author James Baldwin. His first assignment as a photographer was for Junior Bazaar and he started taking portraits and doing fashion shoots for Harper's Bazaar, Theater Arts, Town & Country and Vogue. He was staff photographer for the 12-issue lifespan of the magazine Flair, edited by Fleur Cowles, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Gary Cooper, John Ford, Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne. Bissinger developed an interest in the arts scene, photographing Truman Capote on the set of a film in Paris and Marlon Brando in front of a window in his New York City apartment. A 1949 photograph taken at a table in the garden of Manhattan's Café Nicholson of the up-and-coming in the arts world included artist Buffie Johnson, ballerina Tanaquil LeClerq, author Gore Vidal, playwright Tennessee Williams and novelist Donald Windham, in what The New York Times described as "a class picture of the young and the talented in the American arts, more than ready for their close-ups".Café Nicholson, which he created with Johnny Nicholson, who had worked with him as a window-dresser at Lord & Taylor earlier in his career, was the frequent setting of his photographs. [