Biographical / Historical
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Jerry McMillan photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and
Date (inclusive): 1957-2014
30.3 Linear Feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
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.
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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.
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.
Conditions Governing Access
Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of sculptures which require
curatorial approval. Born-digital material unavailable until reformatted.
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.
The collection was processed by Jade M. Finlinson in 2018.
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.
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
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
The collection is arranged in three series:
Series I. Photographs, 1957-2012 (bulk
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.
Subjects - Names
Subjects - Topics
Art, American -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century
Art, American -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century --
Art galleries, Commercial -- California -- Los Angeles
Artists -- Portraits
Photographers -- United States -- 20th century
Portrait photography -- United States -- 20th century
Art -- Catalogs
Genres and Forms of Material
Black-and-white photographs -- 20th century
Printed ephemera -- California
Chromogenic color prints
Color prints (photographs)
Gelatin silver prints