Related Archival Materials
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Lewis Baltz notebooks and ephemera
Date (inclusive): 1987-2011
Baltz, Lewis, 1945-2014
3.5 linear feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
The collection of ephemera and notebooks from photographer Lewis Baltz gives insight to his public exhibitions and daily life
between 1987-2011. The ephemera documents Baltz's group and solo exhibitions, while notebooks dating from 1995-2005 present
a detailed overview of Baltz's career-related activities, meetings, projects planned and executed, and expenses. Also present
are several photographs of and by Baltz. Also present are several photographs of and by Baltz.
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Language: Collection material is in
English with some
Dutch; Flemish, and
American photographer and author Lewis Baltz first gained recognition as one of the key figures in the New Topographic Movement
of the late 1970s, pioneering an approach to photography that refused to glorify industrial process, revealing instead landscapes
blighted by rapid development and human detritus. Born in Newport Beach, California in 1945, Baltz became interested in photography
at an early age and began photographing seriously at age 12. He poured over photography publications (early influences were
Ed van der Elsken, Wright Morris and Edward Weston) and frequented camera shops, especially William R. Current's store in
Laguna Beach, where the owner became his early mentor, employing him in the store at age 14. Baltz graduated from the San
Francisco Art Institute in 1969 and received his MFA from Claremont Graduate School in 1971.
Growing up in postwar Southern California, Baltz witnessed first-hand the region's rapid transformation from open, agricultural
and desert space into a homogenized urban environment. By 1967 he had already begun responding to the changes around him,
creating tightly framed black-and-white photographs that recorded the generic, oft-overlooked details of these man-made environments
– the flat, expansive stucco facades punctuated by blank windows and exterior piping; signage; parking lots; empty closets
and set-like motel rooms of the new tract house developments and anonymous, light industrial and commercial urban spaces.
These early single images, which he first called the
Highway Series, were later to be collectively titled
From single images of generic, urban details Baltz went on to produce images in series such as
The Tract Houses (1969-1971),
The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California (1974-1975),
Park City (1978-1981) and
San Quentin Point (1981-1983) that charted, with minimalist precision, both the monotonous urbanization of once-isolated locations and the
newly-created wastelands on their marginalized edges.
Baltz's first solo show,
Tract Houses, was held at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, in 1971 when he was 26. His work gained further recognition with his participation
in the ground-breaking 1975 group exhibition
New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, curated by William Jenkins, and first held at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Along with Robert Adams and
Joe Deal, among other photographers, Baltz advanced a documentary view of landscape which appositionally responded to their
photographic predecessors, such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, by abandoning all traces of the sublimity of the natural
world in their work in favor of a detached, critical view of urban and suburban realities and their terrains.
In his serial work of the 1980s Baltz gradually shifted from black-and-white to color photography. This shift coincided with
his feeling that he had exhausted the subject of the postwar industrial transformation of American landscape, and he began
moving from creating images evoking the past, however recent, to creating those meant to convey the future.
Candlestick Point (1984-1990), which includes his first color images (12 out of the 84 images in the series are color), explores the temporality
of the no-man's land between the San Francisco airport and the city's ballpark. In this series, Baltz's only United States
commission, he documented the desolate landfill that was destined to be made into Candlestick Point State Recreation Area.
Disenchanted with American Reagan-Bush era politics, Baltz moved to Europe in the late 1980s, where his use of color photography
coincided with a paradigmatic shift in his serial works from making what were essentially documentary images to making images
with a more explicit social and political content. He became especially interested in exploring the uses and abuses of new
technologies. In series such as
The Power Trilogy (1992-1995) Baltz explores the omnipresence of surveillance cameras and society's increasing dependence on and subsequent
vulnerability to powerful new science and medical technologies. Next, his practice further moved from making traditionally-sized
serial photographs suitable for gallery and museum viewing, i.e. in a "private" setting, to the creation of large-scale, site-
or audience-specific works, often manifested as a single image. These projects were primarily created for public spaces and
broad public audience participation. Furthermore, in works such as
Piazza Sigmund Freud (1989) and
SHHHH! (for Luxembourg) (1995) Baltz broadened his definition of what a "site" might be, moving from the concept of a concrete, physical place to
seeing a site as embodying a social fabric, a community or the history of a place. Yet, despite such shifts in his practice,
Baltz's subject always essentially remains the fraught and highly complex relationships between urban space, architecture,
landscape and ecology.
Seeing books as more democratic and less precious than original photographs, Baltz began publishing from his serial work in
The New Industrial Parks near Irvine California. Although he favored machine-made, mass-produced publications over unique handmade artists' books, Baltz nevertheless insisted
on achieving facsimile reproduction in order to create an experience closer to or even better than viewing an original photographic
print. His early books were published by Leo Castelli Gallery. In 1993 Baltz met the publisher Gerhard Steidl, the printer
for the Fotomuseum Winterthur's (Scalo Verlag) reproduction of the catalog for Baltz's 1990 retrospective
Rule without Exception. Steidl became his primary publisher, producing new books as well as reprinting the early Castelli Gallery publications.
Baltz was the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including a scholarship from the National Endowment for the Arts
(1973, 1977), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1977), the US-UK Bicentennial Exchange Fellowship (1980), and
the Charles Brett Memorial Award (1991). He had over 50 one-person exhibitions, not only at Castelli, where he was part of
the gallery's stable for a number of years, but also at museums and galleries such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Victoria
and Albert Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics, and the Albertina. His work
has also been in more than 160 group exhibitions, commencing with
California Photographers 1970 at the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art and including seven recent thematic exhibitions in 2011, three of which were associated
with the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time:
Under the Big Black Sun: California Art, 1974-1981 (MOCA);
It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles, 1969-1973 (Pomona College Museum of Art); and
Seismic Shift: Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal and California Landscape Photography, 1944-1984 (California Museum of Photography, Riverside). Baltz's works are found in museum collections including the Museum of Modern
Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Museum of Contemporary Art,
Baltz taught in numerous East Coast and West Coast American universities as well as at the Università Iuav Di Venezia and
the European Graduate School EGS in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He was married to the photographer Slavica Perkovic, with whom
he frequently collaborated. Baltz died in Paris in 2014.
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Lewis Baltz notebooks and ephemera, 1987-2011, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2015.M.27.
Gift of Heidi Yorkshire and Joseph Anthony. Acquired in 2015.
The collection was processed in 2015 by Kathrin Schoenegg under the supervision of Kit Messick. Material was rehoused and
arranged in chronological order, and completely faded thermographic paper was removed. The biographical/historical note was
written by Beth Ann Guynn.
Related Archival Materials
The library holds the Lewis Baltz Archive, Special Collections accession number 2013.M.31, as well as a copy of Baltz's portfolio
Venezia Marghera (2013), Special Collections accession number 2014.R.17*.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection comprises ephemera and personal notebooks belonging to photographer Lewis Baltz (1945-2014) giving insight
into his public exhibitions and daily life between 1987-2011. The material directly complements the Lewis Baltz archive (2013.M.31).
The ephemera documents Baltz's solo and group exhibitions through invitations to exhibition openings, catalogues, printed
articles, reviews, and notices by and about Baltz. The material relates to projects including
Rule Without Exception, and
The Deaths in Newport Beach. Also present are several exhibition-related postcards sent by Baltz, two photographic portraits, and three photographs by
Baltz originating from a press package. The notebooks present a detailed overview of Baltz's career-related activities and
expenses between 1995-2004. In addition to information about his daily routines and private musings, the notebooks discuss
various planned and realised projects such as exhibitions, art fairs, purchases, films, lectures, conferences, and book and
magazine publications. The collection also provides insight to Baltz's international network of friends and colleagues in
the art world including well-known figures in Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Arranged in two series:
Series I. Ephemera, 1987-2011;
Series II. Notebooks, 1995-2004.
Subjects - Names
Aigner, Carl, 1954-
Amelunxen, Hubertus von
Baltz, Lewis, 1945-2014
Steidl, Gerhard, 1950-
Subjects - Corporate Bodies
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Subjects - Topics
Art, American--20th century
Art, American--21st century
New topographics (Photography)
Genres and Forms of Material
Gelatin silver prints--United States--20th century
Receipts (financial records)
Silver-dye bleach prints -- 20th century