Laguna Art Museum
Laguna Beach, California
Paul Outerbridge Photograph Acquired by Laguna Art Museum
William Current and His First Wife, Laguna Beach, 1950, gelatin silver print, Outerbridge's cropping notations in ink on the recto, 2 1/8 x 2 1/4 inches, Museum purchase with funds fom the Motivated Museum Members
The Laguna Art Museum has acquired a significant Paul Outerbridge photograph, marking the beginning of an effort to rebuild its collection of works by the former Laguna Beach resident.
The Museum acquired the gelatin silver print, William Current and His First Wife, dating from 1950, at a Christie's Los Angeles photograph auction on December 11, 1998. The photograph will be on display through April 11, 1999.
Said Laguna Art Museum Director Bolton Colburn, "This particular Outerbridge is significant for a number of reasons. First, the subject is William Current, a fellow photographer and close friend of Outerbridge's in Laguna Beach during the late 1940s and '50s. The aesthetic that Outerbridge developed in the '20s--his innovative use of color and black and white modernist abstraction--clearly influenced Current's own work. Current's elegant landscapes, which disintegrate and modulate light, are a critical precursor to the development of the New Topographic photography of the '70s. This photograph makes it clear that Outerbridge exerted a great deal of influence in California that has yet to be acknowledged in the larger context of American photography."
Colburn called the acquisition "symbolic" because it is the first purchase the Laguna Art Museum has made independently since 1996 when it was briefly merged with the Newport Harbor Art Museum. During the merger a significant collection of Outerbridge photographs owned by Laguna Art Museum was sold at auction.
"We are thrilled to have made an acquisition which has such importance and to begin building back a collection of Outerbridge's work that represents the impact he had in California," Colburn said.
Born in New York City in 1896, Paul Outerbridge Jr. first achieved international recognition as a photographer during the 1920s, when his work was widely published by magazines such as Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, and Paris Vogue. He spent several years (1922-1929) in Paris, where he met Man Ray, Picasso, and Edward Steichen. Returning to New York in 1929, he experimented with cabro-color process throughout the 1930s and wrote the book Photographing Color in 1940. He left New York to attempt a Hollywood career in 1943. Failing to break into the tight-knit entertainment unions, he settled in Laguna Beach, where he had a significant impact on photographers William Current and Lewis Baltz. He died in 1958.
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