Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lewis Baltz, 1945 - 2014

Lewis Baltz, from The New Industrial Parks, 1974
Lewis Baltz died on 23 November 2014.
One of my favourite photographers.
Lewis Baltz' most famous series of photographs, The New Industrial Parks, Near Irvine, California (1973-75) offers a remarkable contrast to the traditional, Romantic concerns of landscape photography: instead of natural beauty and the sublime Baltz shows us the facades and structural details of anonymous, prefabricated industrial units and parking lots. While the series clearly constitutes a critique of urban sprawl - the relentless spread of a 'man-altered landscape' - at the same time Baltz' precise Minimal aesthetic, crisp, formal composition and attention to details and textures make these very beautiful pictures.
Baltz was included - alongside Robert Adams, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore Henry Wessel Jr, Bernd and Hilla Becher - in the seminal exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape in 1975 in which the participants collectively proposed an aesthetics of the banal.
In addition to The New Industrial Parks (1973-75), Baltz' work includes (amongst others): The Prototype Works (1967-76), Tract Houses (1971) and Sites of Technology (1989-91), from which the examples below are selected.

Read an obituaries by Gerry Badger and Sean O'Hagan; read the 'last interview' at L'Oeil de la Photographie; watch a short video of Baltz talking abut his work on the Tate website;  read more interviews with, and articles about, Baltz at American Suburb X; read an article about New Topographics by Kelly Dennis: Landscape and the West: Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography

The Prototype Works (1967-76)

Tract Houses (1971)

The New Industrial Parks (1973-75)  

Sites of Technology (1989-91)

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