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A Turbulent Era Captured by Three Masters of American Photography

Strange Days: Photographs from the Sixties by
Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus
At the Getty July 1-October 5, 2003

May 1, 2003

Los Angeles--The iconic, powerful and often disquieting works of three important American photographers will be the focus of Strange Days: Photographs from the Sixties by Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus, at the Getty from July 1 to October 5, 2003. The exhibition spotlights more than 80 black-and-white works by Garry Winogrand, William Eggleston, and Diane Arbus, who were all active during the turbulent 1960s. Each, in a unique way, captured memorable images and evocations of that era on film: Winogrand with a manic, amused curiosity; Eggleston with the quiet irony of one for whom everything and nothing is significant; and Arbus with an honest, confrontational mode. The works on display are drawn chiefly from the Getty's permanent collection, including some recent acquisitions being exhibited for the first time.

The Sixties brought relentless change and unrest to America. Scientific innovations such as the birth-control pill and the burgeoning space program made headlines, while demonstrators marched for social reform, civil rights, and women’s liberation. The nation's psyche ached from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and remained chilled by the Cold War threat of atomic annihilation. In the South, the integration of black students into formerly segregated schools and universities sparked violence. And the grinding Vietnam War spurred thousands to protest, as the hippie movement flashed peace signs and practiced "free love."

Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus took to the streets of America, aiming their cameras at what they saw around them, documenting the "strange days" of the 20th century’s most restless decade. "In the midst of the cultural revolution, these three photographers practiced three different forms of the social documentary style," says Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. "Each artist used the camera to explore contemporary dress and manners, public behavior, and the American lifestyle." 

Garry Winogrand (1928–1984) was born in New York City and began photographing during a stint in the Army Air Force (1946–47).  After studies at City College of New York, Columbia University, and the New School for Social Research, he became a commercial photographer, working for several agencies. His photographs were exhibited for the first time in 1955 in Family of Man at the Museum of Modern Art, where he returned in 1969 with a solo exhibition. Winogrand's essential subject matter was the American street, and he had a particular eye for juxtaposing the familiar and the peculiar, creating wide-angled or tilted shots that appear to be casual quick takes, but are in fact densely composed and layered with meaning. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and made this city his subject until his death in 1984.

William Eggleston (b. 1939), who was raised in Mississippi, settled in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1960s. He acquired a Leica camera as a teenager, and after studies at three different universities, decided that photography, not academics, was his destiny. Though his early black-and-white photographs, including those in the exhibition, are less well known than his subsequent color images, they prefigure his later works in many ways. Eggleston uses the subject matter of the typical American "snapshot"—bland rooms and houses, bleak lawns, empty street intersections, people in stiff and self-conscious poses—and forces viewers to see these seemingly banal scenes in new ways.  This is the first exhibition of black-and-white pictures by a photographer better known for his color work. Since his solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (William Eggleston’s Guide, 1976), he has had numerous exhibitions of his color photographs, including William Eggleston and the Color Tradition at the Getty (October 1999–January 2000).

Diane Arbus (née Nemerov, 1923–1971) was one of three children born to a creative and affluent New York family. She was introduced to photography by her husband Allan Arbus, and both worked as fashion photographers from the early 1940s through the late 1950s. Arbus, however, disliked the artificial world of fashion shoots, and as her marriage disintegrated, she began to pursue her own photographic interests. Her most noted work deals with people on the streets and at the margins of society. Her photographs of carnival freaks, transvestites, strippers, nudists, and the mentally ill are direct, confrontational, and often disturbing. But equally unsettling are her images of "normal" suburban families, wealthy Fifth Avenue matrons, and New York conventioneers. Even Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland, the quintessential sunlit California playground, becomes a fortress of shadows when seen through Arbus’ lens. Her distinct style and unconventional interests were respected by editors at top publications, who gave her challenging assignments.

Note to Editors: Images available upon request.

For more information, the public can call 310-440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu.

RELATED EVENTS
All events are free and take place in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. Seating reservations are required. For reservations and information, please call 310-440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu.

AUDIOGUIDE
Works related to the exhibition are featured on the Museum's Audioguide. Available in the Entrance Hall for $3.

GALLERY COURSE
Strange Discussions: Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus
This three-part, discussion-based gallery course led by education staff members closely examines the photographs of Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus taken during the tumultuous Sixties. No previous experience necessary. Limited to 25 participants. Sign up for all three sessions by calling 310-440-7300.

Saturday, August 2, 9, and 16, 7 – 8:30 p.m., Museum galleries.  Reservations available beginning July 26.

Saturday, September 6, 13, and 20, 7 – 8:30 p.m., Museum galleries.  Call for additional reservation information.

LECTURE
Winogrand in the West: Looking for the Urban in L.A.
New York photographer Garry Winogrand's fascination with Los Angeles began with brief visits in the 1950s and ended with six years of residence just before his early death in 1984. This presentation by Judith Keller, associate curator of photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum, illustrates how Winogrand applied his fearless curiosity and unique street photography skills to a city radically different from his own. Sunday, September 14, 4 p.m.

POINT-OF-VIEW TALKS
Talks are held at 6 and 7:30 p.m. in the Museum galleries. Sign up at the Museum Information Desk beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Karen Halverson, a photographer who for the last 20 years has been photographing the human and natural landscape in the American West, discusses the exhibition. Friday, August 29   

Gay Block, who has been making photographic portraits since 1973, discusses Diane Arbus in connection with the exhibition. Block's landmark book with writer Malka Drucker, Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, was exhibited at MoMA in 1992.  Friday, September 12     

UPCOMING PHOTOGRAPHS EXHIBITIONS
Photographs of Artists by Alexander Liberman
July 22 – October 19, 2003
Getty Research Institute Exhibition Gallery
Drawn from the Alexander Liberman collection of photographs, recently donated to the Getty Research Institute, this exhibition presents a survey of European and American artists photographed by Liberman during his 50-year career as art director at Vogue and editorial director of Condé Nast Publications. The 71 works on display range from some of the best-known images of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Barnett Newman, to more casual shots of Marcel Duchamp, David Smith, and Helen Frankenthaler, including many that have never been published before.

Julia Margaret Cameron, Photographer
October 21, 2003 January 11, 2004
Museum, West Pavilion
More than 100 rare photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815–1879), one of the most important figures in the history of photography, will be on view in this exhibition, featuring Cameron’s best work drawn from collections in Europe and the United States. Cameron came to photography in midlife and quickly excelled in an art form that offered Victorian women the rare opportunity to achieve professional recognition. This loan exhibition was organized by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in collaboration with the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, England. The Getty Museum is the third and final venue. Available in conjunction with the exhibition is Julia Margaret Cameron: The Collected Photographs, by Julian Cox and Colin Ford  (The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), the first volume to reproduce Cameron’s entire oeuvre.

Recent Acquisitions of Eugène Atget, Brett Weston, William Garnett, and Milton Rogovin (working title)
February 3–May 30, 2004
Museum, West Pavilion
This exhibition features four photographers whose work the Museum has recently acquired by gift or purchase. Included will be Atget's haunting garden views and Parisian street scenes, modernist cityscapes by Weston, abstract landscapes by Garnett, and Rogovin's documentation of storefront churches and worldwide survey of miners at home and work. These four major figures of 20th-century photography are also exemplars of the Museum's active and varied program of collecting photographs. While providing insight into the working methods of these important and influential photographers, the exhibition will simultaneously highlight the diverse manners in which their work entered the Getty's collection.

The Inventive Eye: Photographers of Genius at the Getty (working title)
March 16–July 25, 2004
Exhibitions Pavilion
The Inventive Eye presents the work of innovative photographers who profoundly influenced their contemporaries and succeeding generations of artists. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the department of photographs, the exhibition will include selected prints by 37 photographers whose work is held in depth by the Museum, among them William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Carleton Watkins, Eugène Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, and Diane Arbus. The photographs date from the earliest years of the new medium in Europe to America of the 1960s. Many of the individual photographs are icons, widely reproduced in histories of art and photography, while others have exerted a more subtle influence. The exhibition, drawn entirely from one of the Museum's newest but richest collections, illuminates how art moves continuously forward as photographers of one generation stand on the shoulders of their precursors, thus advancing pre-existing visual ideas to a new level of expression. 

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