Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
McMillan (Jerry) photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Separated Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jerry McMillan photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s
    Date (inclusive): 1957-2014
    Number: 2015.M.10
    Creator/Collector: McMillan, Jerry, 1936-
    Physical Description: 30.3 Linear Feet (50 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The collection contains a near complete archive of Jerry McMillan's artistic output including approximately 7,000 negatives, 150 contact sheets, and 375 prints, as well as magazine articles, exhibition announcements, and other ephemera. There is also a small selection of McMillan's mixed media artworks, including two of McMillan's photo-bag sculptures and a multimedia collage.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy  .
    Language: Collection material is in English.

    Biographical / Historical

    Jerry McMillan (born 1936) is a Los Angeles photographer who moved to California from Oklahoma City in 1957 to study at Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts). McMillan played a vital role as a documenter of the mid-century Los Angeles art scene. Collaborating closely with artists, including fellow Oklahomans Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode, he helped them craft their own brands by posing them in ways that reflected their personas. Ruscha, Judy Chicago, and Barbara T. Smith are among the artists whose public images came to be widely recognized, thanks to the often whimsically staged role-playing he captured them performing. While McMillan is known primarily as a photographer and designer of catalogues for other artists' exhibitions, he also developed his own artistic expression using photography as an experimental medium integrated with other media and techniques. He is one of the pioneers of photo-sculpture, and was a dedicated creator of photographic three-dimensional objects throughout his career. Ten of McMillan's photo-sculptures, including the sculptures known as "paper bags" that are included in the GRI holdings, were included in the landmark 1970 exhibition Photography into Sculpture, curated by Peter C. Bunnell at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which also traveled to several venues in the United States and Canada. They were also included in a re-created Photography into Sculpture exhibition at Cherry and Martin Gallery in Los Angeles in 2011-2012, and a restaged version called The Photographic Object, organized by Hauser + Wirth Gallery in New York in July 2014.
    Sources consulted: Peckman, Steven. Jerry McMillan: Exhibition at California State University, Northridge, Art Galleries, February 11-March 31, 2012. Northridge: California State University, Northridge, 2012.
    Isotta Poggi, Acquisition Approval Form for the Jerry McMillan photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, accession no. 2015.M.10, January 16, 2015.

    Administrative Information

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of sculptures which require curatorial approval. Born-digital material unavailable until reformatted.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Jerry McMillan photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, 1957-2014, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2015.M.10.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Acquired in 2015.

    Processing Information

    The collection was processed by Jade M. Finlinson in 2018.

    Related Materials

    Related materials held by the GRI: Edward Ruscha photographs of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, 1965-2010, Accesssion no. 2012.M.1; Edward Ruscha photographs of Los Angeles streets, 1974-2010, Accesion no. 2012.M.2; Barbara T. Smith papers, 1927-2012, Accession no. 2014.M.14; Rolf Nelson Gallery records, 1953-1973, 2012.M.2.

    Separated Materials

    Approximately 80 art books and catalogues designed by McMillan and/or illustrated with his photographs have been transferred to the library's general collection and may be found by searching the Library Catalog  for Jerry McMillan.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection comprises approximately 375 black-and-white and color photographic prints; 7,000 negatives; 150 contact sheets; several multimedia collages using McMillan's photographs; advertisement posters and postcards related to exhibitions by McMillan and other Los Angeles artists; two of McMillan's photo-sculptures; 90 exhibition catalogues designed by McMillan and featuring his photographs; a United States flag used by McMillan in several photography projects; two paper bag photo-sculptures; and papers related to McMillan's career as a photographer and designer. The art world documented in McMillan's photographs features several projects with Ed Ruscha, often posing with his family or in the process of creating art. Other artists and gallerists represented in the images include Larry Bell; Billy Al Bengston; Ed Bereal; Natalie Bieser; Paul Brach and Miriam Schapiro; Judy Chicago; Ronald Davis; Fred Eversley; Joe Goode; Robert Graham; Maren Hassinger; George Herms; Walter Hopps; Robert Irwin; Hoon Kwak; Ron Miyashiro; Clark Murray; Rolf Nelson; Ken Price; Ed Ruscha; Paul Sarkisian; Barbara T. Smith; James Turrell; Diana Vitale; Doug Wheeler; Charles E. White III; Nicholas Wilder; Mason Williams; and Maurice Yanez. In addition to the original photographic materials, the collection contains 90 art books and catalogues McMillan designed and illustrated with his photographs, including for exhibitions at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park; the Armory Center for the Arts; ARCO Center for the Visual Arts; the Newport Harbor Art Museum; Baxter Art Gallery at California Institute of Technology, and other Los Angeles area museums and galleries. The collection also includes two of McMillan's paper bag sculptures, significant to the history of the photo-sculpture movement for having been exhibited with other McMillan items in the seminal 1970 exhibition Photography into Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art.


    The collection is arranged in three series: Series I. Photographs, 1957-2012 (bulk 1960-1976); Series II. Other artworks, 1959-1968; Series III. Papers and ephemera, 1960-2014.
    Material was originally grouped together in envelopes by McMillan and labeled by subject or project name, in some cases with film format as a secondary category, and these original groupings have been maintained and arranged in alphabetical order by project title or surnames for individuals. Projects with multiple individual artists are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the first-listed subject.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Ruscha, Edward
    McMillan, Jerry, 1936-
    Goode, Joe, 1937-

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, American -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
    Art, American -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century -- Exhibitions
    Art galleries, Commercial -- California -- Los Angeles
    Artists -- Portraits
    Photographers -- United States -- 20th century
    Portrait photography -- United States -- 20th century
    Book design
    Art -- Catalogs

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Black-and-white photographs -- 20th century
    Printed ephemera -- California
    Chromogenic color prints
    Color prints (photographs)
    Color transparencies
    Black-and-white negatives
    Contact sheets
    Gelatin silver prints
    Photographs, Original


    McMillan, Jerry, 1936-