Thursday, February 14, 2013


Lewis Baltz - SE Corner, Semicoa, 333 McCormick, Costa Mesa, 1974
from the series The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California.
Opening February 28, Vienna's ALBERTINA presents a major survey exhibition of the work of Lewis Baltz - artist, writer, philosopher. A protagonist of the New Topographics movement, Lewis Baltz (born 1945) not only revived American landscape photography, but also revolutionized the photographic pictorial language of the 1970s.
His black-and-white images of industrial landscapes, dreary suburban neighborhoods and wastelands introduced radically new motifs, which were debuted in the now legendary 1975 exhibition The New Topographics alongside the work of Robert Adams, Stephen Shore and Henry Wessel, Jr.

ALBERTINA says this about the show: The landscape photographs by the US-American Lewis Baltz are characterized by deserted and frequently devastated peripheries. In 1970s, he revolutionized fine-art photography with motifs that had previously not been thought worth depicting, such as industrial buildings, suburban housing developments, and wasteland.
From March 2013, the Albertina will dedicate an exhibition comprising as many as several hundreds of photographs to this artist, who was born in Newport Beach, California, in 1945. On display will be, among other works, the famous series The Tract Houses (1971) and The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine (1973-75), through which Baltz fundamentally reformed the genre of landscape photography, thereby addressing the disastrous impact of technology on society in the twentieth century.
Baltz’s imagery reveals itself as thoroughly innovative: in formally rigid photographs, such as in the series The Prototype Works (1967-76), the artist has defamiliarized architectural motifs to such an extent that they turn into almost abstract forms and surfaces. This utterly precise language of form, by which Baltz focuses on the materiality and surface textures of the objects depicted, demonstrates the influence of Minimal Art on his work. With their allusions to further artistic movements, such as Conceptual Art and Land Art, Baltz’s photographs turn out to be a play with citations and references that is to be analyzed in this exhibition.
The show will highlight outstanding works by Lewis Baltz, which apart from the aforementioned examples will include the series San Quentin Point (1981) and the colour photographs of Sites of Technology (1989-91). The Albertina seizes this exhibition as an opportunity to display exceptional photographs from its own holdings in the form of the two series The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine and The Prototype Works. Further excellent works by such artists as Robert Smithson, Ed Ruscha, Bernd & Hilla Becher, and Donald Judd will visualize artistic influences that proved to be crucial for Lewis Baltz’s work. This contextualization is meant to present the complexity of Lewis Baltz’s œuvre on the one hand and pay tribute to one of the most important photographers of the second half of the twentieth century on the other. 

The exhibition runs until 2 June 2013.

Lewis Baltz - Cray supercomputer, CERN, Geneva, 1989-91
From the series 89/91 Sites of Technology

Accompanying the show is a superbly produced catalogue, which was made in close collaboration with Lewis Baltz. The book-work reproduces such series as The Tract Houses (1969-71), Maryland (1976), Nevada (1977), Park City (1978-80), San Quentin Point (1981-83), The Canadian Series (1985), Candlestick Point (1987-89), Sites of Technology (1989-91) and several others. Essays contextualize Baltz's work in the larger art and photography climate of the 1970s, and discuss his application of cinematic strategies to photography.
You can obtain a copy by going to Amazon HERE.

Lewis Baltz - Walther König, Köln, 216 pages

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the information
thomas from vienna