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Photography of John Gutmann: Culture Shock

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The lens of photographer John Gutmann reveals a unique appreciation of American culture in all its vitality and strangeness, bringing the U.S. urban experience of the twentieth century vividly to life. The social turbulence underlying life during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s is captured memorably by Gutmann in America’s cars, signs, clothing, and street life, and in the multitude of surprising individuals he portrayed with both irony and ...
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Hardcover New Photographer John Gutmann brings 20th-century America to life.

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Overview

The lens of photographer John Gutmann reveals a unique appreciation of American culture in all its vitality and strangeness, bringing the U.S. urban experience of the twentieth century vividly to life. The social turbulence underlying life during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s is captured memorably by Gutmann in America’s cars, signs, clothing, and street life, and in the multitude of surprising individuals he portrayed with both irony and respect.

This retrospective volume traces Gutmann’s career from his training as a painter in Germany, first under renowned Expressionist Otto Muller, then in the wild, decadent Berlin of the 1930s, through his resolution to leave during Hitler’s ascent to power, to his decision to settle in San Francisco. As a Jew, Gutmann was forbidden by the Nazis to exhibit or teach; photojournalism struck him as a useful means of supporting himself as a refugee. He had no training as a photographer and no interest in in the medium as a pure art form, but he was fascinated by the popular culture of photography in magazines. Bringing to San Francisco the eye for the bizarre that he had developed in recording the vibrant, cosmopolitan life of Berlin – a eye further sensitized by his status as an exile in a strange country – Gutmann photographed the odd, the morbid, and the freakish with the detachment of an anthropologist examining an exotic culture.

Selected by the artist shortly before his death in 1998, these images are as much a record of Gutmann’s own culture shock as he experienced America – a land he and his German contemporaries had fantasized as a glamorous amalgam of skyscrapers, the Wild West, painted Indians, gangsters, and Negro jazz – as they are a reflection of a culture shocked by its own restless movement.
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Editorial Reviews

Black and White
Mysterious and sensual … Gutmann’s photographs … make you sit up and take notice.
John R. Nordell
Joh Guttman's photographs are bold and mysterious...Gutman is a master of the man-made landscape.
Christian Science Monitor
New Yorker
Stylish
San Diego Union-Tribune
A beautiful book
San Francisco Examiner
Should serve as the standard book on Gutmann … you don’t really know San Francisco until you see Gutmann’s version of it.
The Irish Times
Some of the most vivid images of the American mid-century.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781858940977
  • Publisher: Merrell Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1900
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 9.39 (w) x 11.76 (h) x 0.83 (d)

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