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5 Notable Series of Photographs On Display at The Getty

  • LaToya Ruby Frazier - Four photographs
July 10, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

Throughout the relatively short history of photography, artists were very often focused on producing works in thematic series. Whether fascinated by the landscape, still life, humans or cityscapes, they were prone to observing and capturing the changes caused either by certain natural or social effects or by the flow of time.

The exhibition titled Once. Again. Photographs in Series at the J. Paul Getty Museum explores how the photographers take on a certain motif, how they form a narrative, and what effect the series can achieve from both historical and contemporary perspective.

The Exhibition Concept

The curator of the exhibition Mazie Harris was focused on selecting the finest series from the museum’s collection, and she was inspired by the thoughts of the celebrated poet and traveler William Wordsworth. Harris stated emphasized:

“Once again” is a phrase repeated in a poem by William Wordsworth. He was fascinated by the powerful feeling that arises when revisiting a familiar place. He’s experiencing his surroundings in real time and yet is constantly aware of his memories of being there before. The photographers in this exhibition conjure that same sensation. They offer us the opportunity to see people and places afresh, even as we track the powerful changes wrought by time.

The Photography Series

The installment gathers series centered on a specific person – friend, partner or family such as Alfred Stieglitz’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe made throughout their three-decades-long relationship or series by Harry Callahan of his wife Eleanor.

A number of artists in the show explore seasonal and man-made changes in the landscape (such as William A. Garnett’s aerial photographs or Richard Misrach’s astonishing sunset landscapes), as well as changes in urban environments caused by social and political processes (found in the works of LaToya Ruby Frazier, Camilo José Vergara, and John Divola reflecting housing and architectural issues).

On display will also be the works of contemporary photographers which explore social issues such as domestic or state-imposed violence (series by Donna Ferrato and Seamus Murphy).

Once. Again at Getty Museum

The exhibition will function as a sort of an anthropological showcase since it will show various aspects of human behavior, and therefore provide a fine insight in a social, technological, cultural and political change which occurred since the begging of the 20th century and the rise of the photography as a media until the present day.

Once. Again. Photographs in Series will be on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center in Los Angeles until 10 November 2019.

Here are 5 photography series in the spotlight of the exhibition.

Featured image: LaToya Ruby Frazier – Four photographs, Various, see extension. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds, provided by the Photographs Council. All images courtesy Getty.

  • Alfred Stieglitz - Georgia O Keeffe A Portrait
  • Alfred Stieglitz - Georgia O Keeffe A Portrait
  • Alfred Stieglitz - Georgia O Keeffe A Portrait

Alfred Stieglitz's Portraits of Georgia O'Keeffe

The legendary photographer Alfred Stieglitz created a series of photographs featuring the pioneering American modernist and his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe. The two met in 1916 and immediately feel for each other artistically and emotionally, ending up married in 1924. Stieglitz was already an influential figure in the art circles, so he persistently promoted O’Keeffe’s work; in 1925, she was part of the landmark Seven Americans exhibition alongside Arthur Dove, John Marin, Paul Strand, Charles Demuth, and Stieglitz himself. The photographer was apparently dazzled by O’Keefe which can be proven by a series of portraits of the painter he made throughout their lasting relationship.

Featured images: Alfred Stieglitz – Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait, 1918. Gelatin silver print, 11.4 × 8.6 cm (4 1/2 × 3 3/8 in.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Alfred Stieglitz – Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait, 1923. Gelatin silver print, 8.9 × 11.7 cm (3 1/2 × 4 5/8 in.), 34.4 × 27 cm (13 9/16 × 10 5/8 in.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Alfred Stieglitz – Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait, 1933. Gelatin silver print, 8.9 × 11.4 cm (3 1/2 × 4 1/2 in.), 34.7 × 27.1 cm (13 11/16 × 10 11/16 in.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

  • LaToya Ruby Frazier - Four photographs

LaToya Ruby Frazier's Home Body

Next up is the fascinating black-and-white series by American artist and professor of photography LaToya Ruby Frazier, who gained recognition for her outstanding photographs of her own family life and community in Braddock, Pennsylvania. By referring to documentary practices of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, Frazier constructs simple yet staggering visual testimonials about race, class, family, and displacement in a specific manner of self-portraiture and social narrative. At the moment of release, this series provided a new understanding of how the domestic context contributed to contemporary art.

Featured image: LaToya Ruby Frazier – Four photographs. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds, provided by the Photographs Council.

  • John Divola - Zuma
  • John Divola - Zuma
  • John Divola - Zuma

John Divola's Zuma

In the 1970s while a graduate student at UCLA, the artist John Divola started producing abstract, graphic graffiti in abandoned houses in his native LA, and photographing his interventions. Divola’s style of conceptual, inter-disciplinary practice was really at the peak, as the artist dealt with bodies, identities, sexuality and captured those actions with the camera. Alongside the apparent performativity, this series reflects Divola’s actual desire for escape, movement, and transcendence; a perfect place to isolate oneself and imagine a different world.

Featured image: John Divola – Zuma (untitled), 1977. Chromogenic print, 24.7 × 30.4 cm (9 3/4 × 11 15/16 in.), 27.8 × 35.4 cm (10 15/16 × 13 15/16 in.). Copyright: © John Divola. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of the Wilson Centre for Photography; John Divola – Zuma (untitled), 1977. Chromogenic print. Image: 24.8 × 30.6 cm (9 3/4 × 12 1/16 in.), 27.8 × 35.5 cm (10 15/16 × 14 in.). Copyright: © John Divola. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of the Wilson Centre for Photography; John Divola – Zuma (untitled), 1977. Chromogenic print, 24.7 × 30.4 cm (9 3/4 × 11 15/16 in.), 27.8 × 35.4 cm (10 15/16 × 13 15/16 in.). Copyright: © John Divola. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

  • Camilo José Vergara - 65 East 125th Street, Harlem, December 1977
  • Camilo Jose Vergara - 65 East 125th Street, Harlem, October 1980
  • Camilo José Vergara - 65 East 125th Street, Harlem, December 1977

Camilo José Vergara's Harlem

Chilean-born photographer Camilo José Vergara created this series in 1968. Namely, after arriving in New York to attend the master’s program at Columbia, he started wandering around neighborhoods with his camera and capturing colorful, yet decaying spaces and poor residents. Vergara soon realized that photography should not be perceived just as an art form, but also as a tool for sociopolitical articulation. Therefore, he continued to make series in various neighborhoods and returning regularly throughout the years to rephotograph the same spots and track the changes. This particular series shows the modification of 65 East 125th Street in Harlem over the course of nearly four decades.

Featured image: Camilo José Vergara – 65 East 125th Street, Harlem, December 1977. Chromogenic print. Image: 38.7 × 58.4 cm (15 1/4 × 23 in.). Sheet: 50.6 × 61 cm (19 15/16 × 24 in.). Copyright: © Camilo José Vergara. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo; Camilo José Vergara – 65 East 125th Street, Harlem, October 1980. Chromogenic print. Image: 37.8 × 58.5 cm (14 7/8 × 23 1/16 in.). Sheet: 50.6 × 61 cm (19 15/16 × 24 in.). Copyright: © Camilo José Vergara. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo; Camilo José Vergara – 65 East 125th Street, Harlem, October 1981. Chromogenic print. Image: 38.7 × 58.4 cm (15 1/4 × 23 in.), 50.6 × 61 cm (19 15/16 × 24 in.). Copyright: © Camilo José Vergara. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo.

  • Richard Misrach - 10 29
  • Richard Misrach - 2 16
  • Richard Misrach - 10 31

Richard Misrach's Sky

The last series on our top list is made by American photographer Richard Misrach who came to prominence with his compelling landscapes. These series represent the deserts of the American West by day and night; the curiosity is that while making the nocturnal images, Misrach used long exposures in order to make stars visible as long streaks across the sky. The images belonging to this series is divided into three sections: Skies, Heavenly Bodies, and Night Clouds. The skies show various colors and different constellations, the heavenly bodies reflect more visual complexity, while the night clouds are the least abstract of the images.

Featured image: Richard Misrach – 10.29.97, 4:35 PM, negative 1997; print 1999. Chromogenic print. Dimensions: Image: 45.8 × 59 cm (18 1/16 × 23 1/4 in.). Sheet: 50.7 × 61 cm (19 15/16 × 24 in.). Copyright: © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; Richard Misrach – 2.16.98, 5:20 PM, negative 1998; print 1999. Chromogenic print. Dimensions: Image: 46.2 × 58.9 cm (18 3/16 × 23 3/16 in.). Sheet: 50.4 × 60.7 cm (19 13/16 × 23 7/8 in.). Copyright: © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; Richard Misrach – 10.31.98, 5:22 PM, negative 1998; print 1999. Chromogenic print. Dimensions: Image: 46.3 × 58.9 cm (18 1/4 × 23 3/16 in.). Sheet: 50.4 × 61 cm (19 13/16 × 24 in.). Copyright: © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles. Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser.