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HomeContentsCommentaries > Colin Westerbeck: Photo Synthesis

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Tim HawkinsonOctopus
Cindy ShermanUntitled Film Still #82
Robert Glenn KetchumLakeshore in Morning Fog
Abelardo MorellCamera Obscura Image of the Grand Tetons in Resort Room, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
John SanchezRachel Rosenthal, Artist
Mitch EpsteinBuena Vista, Colorado
Leland RiceVolkswagen With Figure
Catherine WagnerThe Lamps of 1900
Ned SloaneTelephone Pole Piece, Los Angeles: Photograph of Kim Jones
Andrew Freeman#3.4.04- Don Becker's Garage & Guesthouse, Independence, California N36O.48.229 - W118O.11.620
Ken Gonzales-DayFranklin Avenue (1920)
Jo Ann CallisMan in Tie
Bruce NaumanBurning Small Fires (Artist Book)
Annie LeibovitzScarlett Johansson, Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood
David MaiselOblivion 1382-52p
Gilbert B. WeingourtTimothy Leary
Richard MisrachUntitled (Ocotillo)
Edward SteichenSylvia Sidney, Hollywood
Ruben OchoaFwy Wall Extraction
Hunter S. Thompson and othersFrom "Gonzo"
Henry WesselLas Vegas No. 15
James FeeEpiphany
John BaldessariFace (with Red Nose): Plus Four Alternate Noses
Anthony HernandezEverything #2
Ansel AdamsGraduation dress
Loretta AyeroffMountain View, Edris Drive
Grant MudfordWalt Disney Concert Hall, Under Construction #7
Frederick SommerStendhal
Tina ModottiInterior of the Church Tower at Tepotzotlan
Henri Cartier-BressonMexico City
Irving PennHell's Angels, San Francisco
William DassonvilleFrom Glacier Point
Christina FernandezFashion International
Mark LaitaAir Traffic Controller, Todd Phipps, Palmdale, California, May 5, 2006
Juggler, Sergey Gripkov, Los Angeles, February 21, 2000
Mark WyseUntitled Landscape
U.S. Air Force 1352nd Photographic Group, Lookout Mountain StationSugar, 1.2 Kilotons, Nevada
Julius ShulmanVon Sternberg Residence, Northridge
Joaquin TrujilloAmy, Los Ninos
Robert HeineckenShiva Manifesting as a Single Mother
Han NguyenTsunami
Melanie EinzigBikram Yoga Instructor, North Beach, San Francisco
John Patrick SalisburyUntitled No. 134
Karen HalversonGamble House Entry
Bill Owens4th of July Parade, Pleasanton, California
Catherine OpieMy Studio, Suzanne's Work
Eliot PorterReflections in Pool, Escalante River, Utah
Adam BartosLos Angeles
Stan HondaFrom the Heart Mountain Barracks Project
Hiromu KiraThe Thinker
Jeff MermelsteinYosemite National Park, California
Lewis BaltzWest Wall, Unoccupied Industrial Structure, 20 Airway Drive, Costa Mesa
Dennis HopperRobert Irwin
Hansel Mieth and Otto HagelS.F. Water Front
Edward BurtynskyOxford Tire Pile #8, Westley, California
Beahan & McPheeAlmond Trees and Flood Irrigation, Oakdale
Larry SultanBoxers, Mission Hills
Isabel GomesBlue Horizon, Santa Rosa Island
Edward WestonCabbage Leaf
Anthony FriedkinOffshore Winds, Zuma Beach
Richard LongDonner Pass Circle: Along a 20 Day Walk from Ebbetts Pass to the North Fork Feather River Sierra Nevada California 2005
John SwopeDorothy McGuire, Beverly Hills
Hans-Christian SchinkLA Night #1
Herve FriendRedlands From Smiley Hill
Joel SternfeldQueen of the Prom, the Range Nightclub, Slab City, California
   
Standard
  
  
Lewis Baltz 
West Wall, Unoccupied Industrial Structure, 20 Airway Drive, Costa Mesa 
1974 
  
LACMA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art 
© Lewis Baltz; Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art 
  
 
LL/16148 
  
Photo Synthesis
Colin Westerbeck
 
This picture by Lewis Baltz is just one example of the hidden treasures in the Photography Department collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Baltz is a seminal figure in the recent history of photography, not just in California but in general. He was one of several photographers working in the West who were included in a 1975 exhibition titled "New Topographics." This term stuck because the icy objectivity it suggested was the essential quality that the photographs shared. Almost all cast a cold eye on a landscape being transformed by human incursion.
 
Baltz's photographs are minimal in every way. They adapt, eerily, the aesthetic of Minimalism then being created by painters and sculptors. But they also confront, as if in silent protest, the minimal modern architecture of tract housing and industrial parks. Their mix of cool scrutiny and irrepressible complaint is intended to disconcert. It affected viewers that way 30 years ago, and it continues to do so today when such feelings are more common partly because of Baltz's own images.
 
I said treasures like this are hidden at LACMA because the Photography Department has had scant opportunity to show its permanent collection. Since 2001, just one exhibition has been organized as a showcase for the museum's holdings in photography, which the department has been able to exhibit on a regular basis in only a short corridor.
 
Perhaps the museum expansion now underway will make new space possible. Since the department was founded more than 20 years ago, with an acquisition policy focused primarily on work done after 1940, a collection of more than 8,000 photographs has been assembled. Certainly the public could benefit from more frequent access to this accumulated wealth of art.
 
[Originally published in West Magazine : May 7, 2006, p.15] 
 
 
  
 
  
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