The J. Paul Getty Museum

Public Transit Areas #12: Los Angeles

Object Details


Public Transit Areas #12: Los Angeles


Anthony Hernandez (American, born 1947)




Los Angeles, California, United States (Place Created)




Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



32.6 × 47.2 cm (12 13/16 × 18 9/16 in.)


© Anthony Hernandez

Credit Line:

Purchased in part with funds provided by the Photographs Council

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Object Description

This is not a static scene, despite the fact that the main subjects in it are simply waiting for the bus. The picture is filled with tension--of a visual kind. A newspaper vending machine and a man in a hat anchor the image's two lower corners, as diagonal lines forming the sidewalk's edges shoot out from them and meet in the distance. Elements that are either moving or at a diagonal angle to the horizon seem especially pronounced in relation to subjects that are visually still--like the man sitting on a bench with his legs and arms crossed as he eyes the photographer.

This photograph is part of Anthony Hernandez's series, Public Transit Areas (1979-80), which focused on people waiting at bus stops in Los Angeles. The invasive, sensory elements of the city vie for attention with vulnerable looking individuals immersed in their own private worlds. Hernandez used relatively large photographic equipment--a five-by-seven-inch camera mounted on a tripod--to achieve sharp focus throughout his images. A consistent, formulaic approach to composition also heightens the visual tension. By centering his human subjects in the frame, the street's one-point perspective as it recedes into the distance is emphasized. Background details compete for attention because their specifics change from image to image, even as the placement of basic elements remains fixed.

Public Faces/Private Spaces: Recent Acquisitions (October 10, 2006 to February 4, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 10, 2006 to February 4, 2007
The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960-1980 (October 24, 2014 to June 7, 2015)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, October 24, 2014 to January 11, 2015
  • Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton), February 21 to June 7, 2015

Bussard, Katherine A., Alison Fisher, and Greg Foster-Rice. The City Lost & Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960-1980. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), p. 243.