press release

It is immediately apparent that no city has ever been produced by such an extraordinary mixture of geography, climate, economics, demography, mechanics and culture; nor is it likely that an even remotely similar mixture will ever occur again.

This exhibition features photographs—made between 1945 and 1980—from the Museum's collection that represent diverse responses to the city of Los Angeles as a subject and to photography as a medium for documentary and creative expression. It is loosely grouped around the themes of experimental photography, vernacular architecture, car culture, and fantasy and the film industry.

Both iconic and relatively unknown works are included. One of the best known is Garry Winogrand's image of two women walking towards the Theme Building at L.A. International Airport. Though a quintessential New Yorker, Winogrand settled in Los Angeles near the end of his life.

Experimental Photography

With its reclining figure set against a patterned background, Robert Heineken's image recalls the odalisques of French painter Henri Matisse. To Heineken, however, traditional subjects and techniques were of little interest. He created this camera-less photograph by using a page torn from a magazine as the negative. This allowed light to pass through and merge depictions on both sides of the page into a single image with reversed tones.

In 1963, Heineken founded the photography program at the University of California, Los Angeles. He forged new directions in photography, utilizing strategies of manipulation and appropriation to address themes of consumer culture and sexual politics.

Vernacular Architecture

Judy Fiskin's propensity to backlight her subjects makes it difficult to read the details in the modest examples of vernacular architecture found in Westside neighborhoods of Los Angeles that she photographed for her Stucco series. Viewers may be inclined to squint against the harsh light of Southern California that Fishkin makes so palpable. Nevertheless, the small scale of her images, contained by the black edges of the negative, encourages close viewing.

After completing graduate studies in art history at UCLA, Fiskin joined the faculty of the California Institute of Arts in 1977.

Car Culture

A native of Los Angeles, following two years of study at East Los Angeles College and two years of service in the U.S. Army, Anthony Hernandez took up photography in earnest around 1970.

For this image, Hernandez preset his 35mm camera so that objects within a specific range would be in focus. Then, while walking the streets of downtown Los Angeles, he swung the camera to his eye for a fraction of a second to capture fellow pedestrians as well as the ambient mood of a city more typically experienced from the driver's seat.

Fantasy and the Film Industry

Los Angeles native Anthony Friedkin took up photography about the same time he learned to surf, and was already an accomplished photographer by age 16. He then studied at Art Center College of Design and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Friedkin began working as a still photographer for motion pictures in 1975. His depiction of row after row of film cans might be viewed as a historical document of a medium that has been replaced by new technology.

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In Focus: Los Angeles, 1945–1980

Künstler: Garry Winogrand, Reyner Banham, Robert Heinecken, Judy Fiskin, Anthony Hernandez, Anthony Friedkin...