Bill Quandt Biography

Bill Quandt

American

1922-1964

Biography

Bill Quandt was born Frederick William Quandt, Jr. in San Francisco in 1922. He was a self-taught photographer who found work as a freelance commercial publicity and press photographer before the start of World War II, and in 1939 he participated in the Golden Gate International Exposition as an assistant photomuralist. In 1941 he joined the Army Air Corps as an aerial combat photographer, where he was allowed to experiment with early technicolor movie films and high speed photography. His still work was published in the military magazines Yank and Stars and Stripes.

After the war, Quandt enrolled in the photography program at the California School of Fine Art (now known as the San Francisco Art Institute) on the G.I. Bill, studying under the program's founder Ansel Adams as well as it's administer, Minor White. CSFA was the first American college to offer formal courses in professional photography, beginning in 1945. It was bolstered by a staff of leading photographers, including Adams, White, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, and many others who would later be dubbed the "Golden Decade Photographers" - referring to the period between 1945 and 1955. Due to Quandt's previous extensive experience in traditional and cutting-edge techniques, he quickly rose through the program to replace Adams after Adam's departure, becoming technical instructor after just one year. He also took a position as photographer for the M.H. de Young Museum and worked as a portrait photographer. 

Quandt remained at the CSFA until 1956. After his retirement from the school he moved with his wife, artist Elizabeth Quandt, an hour north to Santa Rosa, where Elizabeth took courses in and later taught printmaking at Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1958 Bill opened and operated a successful stereo store that also acted as an impromptu meeting spot for local artists. Bill Quandt died in 1964.