Experience of Lewis Baltz?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by John McCallum, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Very interested to know of anyone's experience or knowledge of Baltz?

    [Californian, now prof of conceptual photography European Art School, Switz]
    G. Eastman Gallery

    Thanks for any help.
     
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  2. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Well, I know of a lot of his work - I think he's a pretty brilliant photographer, and a pretty smart guy. I'm most familiar with his 'industrial parks of irvine' stuff. Any pointed questions?
     
  3. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    He seems to influence/be influenced by the 'new topography' movement, as with R Adams etc(?)
    I'm not familiar with him. But he seems very accomplished.

    Interested in any general information or experience of him/his work. Industrial parks of irvine looks interesting. Why brilliant to you Sparky?
     
  4. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I thought he was doing really remarkable work in the 70s. Very much marching to the beat of his own drum. He WAS the 'new topography' as far as I'm concerned. The work really stands out to me.
     
  5. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Thanks.
     
  6. Shmoo

    Shmoo Subscriber

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    His work on industrial buildings in the Irvine area is remarkable. A few years ago his work was exhibited at the Norton Simon Museum. Digital scans don't do justice to his work. His prints are amazing.
     
  7. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    I see he's written a book in collaboration with Callahan, Porter, and Adams.
     
  8. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    It's more the concepts than the prints that I care about. But I do remember reading somewhere back in the early 80s something about his technique. It was really weird. I think he shoots everything on 35mm Tri-X, but developed in something really ODD - like dektol or technidol (yes, i knooowwww those are REALLY different - but it was something just a weird - perhaps it was lith developer...). Does anyone know?
     
  9. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    I guessed that. Why? :smile:
     
  10. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Because for me, his concepts are stronger than his prints. Actually - I've only ever seen his work in books - so maybe the prints would blow me away if I were to see them... but since I've never seen them, it's a moot point to me. Just as an Adams print is.
     
  11. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Ok I'm diggin here.
    I mean what about his concepts? Just generally his contemporary approach to architecture? The postmodernist topography? ...
     
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  12. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    well, I was thinking it'd be more along the line of social critique than that. I don't suppose it would be fair to try to transmogrify his 'concepts' into words - since they are visual. Why don't you ask him?

    Postmodern 'typology'? Do you mean to say postmodern 'type'? (i understand what 'typology' means - I just didn't think it made sense in that context). I wouldn't consider his work 'postmodern' at all. I'd lump it in more with the Smithsons and the Ruschas and the Bill Owens' (bit of a stretch there) maybe...
     
  13. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Miss-spelt, meant topography.

    Interesting.

    Thank you for the suggestion to ask him. I will be. First I wished to find more about him from those with personal experience or a particular interest in his work.
     
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  15. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    ... uhhh... sounds good. (?)
     
  16. livemoa

    livemoa Member

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    Hi John

    I have seen some of his prints, can´t quite remeber where but think it was in NY or at the Tate a few years ago. His concepts and expression are very strong which I feel is a good combination. I think he is/was a strong influence on Wayne Barrar, along with others in the Altered Landscape school. Peter Blacks series on new houses in Wellington from a few years back shows a similar influence.

    Like Sparky I like him. Whish I was half as good...

    If you like this sort of work then a trip to Nevada might be in order to view the "Altered Landscape" collection in the Nevada Musem of Arts Collection. There is also a very good book by the same titile you can get, try Unity, they might have a copy.

    Actually, come to think of it, it might even have seen some in Wanganui. There was an Altered Landscape show on there a few years back with some Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz prints in it.
     
  17. argus

    argus Member

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    Hi John,

    thanks for posting. In fact, without knowing of Baltz and his type op photography, I am currently working on a series of wallscapes.
    I thought I was being original... not, snif.

    Greetings,
    G
     
  18. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Don't worry about it. Yours would be QUITE different, I'm sure. Here's one of mine.
     
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  19. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Hi David, glad you saw the thread. Yes the influence on Wayne Barrar is pretty evident isn't it. I've wondered about Mark Adams perhaps also...

    Guess you're talking about McNamara's in Wanganui?

    Actually you may be interested; Baltz will be showing an exhibition and holding a 'master class' in Auckland with Harvey Benge at the end of the year. Would be good if you were in town!
    Thanks for the tip on Unity Books.

    Cheers John.

    Argus. I'm afraid to say he wasn't the only one either!
     
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  20. argus

    argus Member

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    Thanks, John.

    I had a closer look to the pictures of Baltz you presented us here and luckily I can distinguish myself from being merely a copycat :wink:

    What I am trying to achieve is to isolate pure texture and geometry of industrial walls. Pointing to their imperfections and to the other side, the contrast between human made form and the influence of nature on it.
    I photograph them only in overcast weather to eliminate all sense of three-dimensional impression (i.e. cast shadows).

    In the example of mine, attached here as a mediocre scan of a work print, I am still wondering if I should crop off the bottom or not.

    Greetings,
    G
     

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  21. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    I think it works better with the base. J.
     
  22. ongarine

    ongarine Member

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    The works of Lewis Baltz had a strong impact on me when I saw his book San Quentin Point in 1987, then I attended an exhibithion, Dialectical Landscape, he had with others US photographers (S. Shore, R Adams, W Eggleston) in Venice the same year. The prints were really interesting and they rappresented very well the subjects of the Baltz work.
    I like mostly his works of the end of 70 and the 80:
    - Nevada Portofolio edited by Castelli Graphic 1978
    - Park City edited by Artspace Press 1980
    - San Quentin Point edited by Aperture 1986
    - Candlestick Point edited by Aperture 1989
    These books could be improved with Near Reno a portfolio never edited but often exhibithed and Park near Irvine recently re-edited.
    L. Baltz has the rigorous method of vision and the clear purpose to transfer the anathomy of (altered) lanscape in photography of any other "topographic photographer".
    Perhaps his photos could be too harsh for a long vision, but he was one of the most innovative photographer in the last twenty years.
     
  23. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    Hi Sparky,

    Well, according to his excellent essay in Landscape: Theory, published in 1980, the Park City work was shot on 'Kodak High-Contrast Copy Film' (sic) and developed in Perfection Micrograin. The word at the time was that he used TP but, though we had mutual acquaintances, I never met him so never heard it from the horse's mouth. He printed on grade 3 Brovira and developed in Dektol. Two-bath fixing, then selenium toning for archival stability.

    The essay also mentions the selection of a tripod-mounted eye-level 35 mm camera with a 35 mm lens stopped down to give deep focus.

    I've just re-read the essay (A good start to the day) to extract those technical titbits, but I've run out of time to write more now. I don't have much of his work here in NY, most is still in London.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  24. livemoa

    livemoa Member

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    John, hi, just back in Hong Kong, was in Iceland when I replyed earlier. The show I saw was at the Sargent Gallery about 3 years back. Was very good. As to the master class, I am thinking very seriously about it. I will be back in NZ at the time as I have a show opening in Wellington just before that. You going to take the class?

     
  25. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Hmmm... interesting. I think it MIGHT have been Landscape: Theory I read about him and his process in at one point. But I'm sure it was at LEAST 20 years ago!! (ACK!!) Coulda sworn it was Tri-X since I had the impression it was a really crude way to capture seemingly 'delicate' graphic linework that would be better suited to something slower... but hell, it was 20 years ago... so what do I know? I'll sure have to take your word for it. It would certainly explain the tonality.
     
  26. Andrew Forrester

    Andrew Forrester Member

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    Back in the late 80's I attended a workshop given by Lewis Baltz here in the UK. He discussed the San Quintin project & book, & we were fortunate to see a selection of prints, which I remember as being very soft. At the time he was using a Linhof camera with 120 backs, but I can't remeber what film he was using, but he was about to start using 120 Kodachrome.