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Photographers of Genius at the Getty

Date: February 11, 2004

Works From Four Esteemed Photographers
Expand the Getty's Holdings and Shed Light on
the Growth of the Photographs Collection

Recent Acquisitions: Eugène Atget, Brett Weston,
William Garnett, Milton Rogovin

At the Getty Center, February 3–May 30, 2004

LOS ANGELES—Recently acquired work from four major figures of 20th-century photography is presented in Recent Acquisitions: Eugène Atget, Brett Weston, William Garnett, Milton Rogovin, at the Getty Center, February 3–May 30, 2004. The exhibition features groups of photographs that reveal the creative processes of these four visionaries.

The images presented span a century of photographic innovation; highlights include Atget's atmospheric garden views and Parisian street scenes, modernist cityscapes by Weston, abstract aerial landscapes by Garnett, and Rogovin's worldwide survey of coal miners at work and at home. Together they reflect the Getty's philosophy on acquiring photographs-to collect groups of works by a diverse array of master photographers, producing a resource with depth as well as breadth.

Recent Acquisitions features photographs that were assembled between 2000–2003 from a variety of sources. In 2000, the Getty acquired 28 important images by Eugène Atget (1857–1927) from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Over the course of nearly a year, Getty curators selected photographs that best complement the Museum's existing strong Atget holdings. Some 250 images by Brett Weston (1911–1993) were donated by the Brett Weston Archive, founded by the private collector Christian Keesee. The gift filled a gap in the Getty's collection, which already housed a substantial body of work by Brett Weston's father, Edward.

Accomplished working photographers are another valuable source of acquisitions. The Getty acquired 33 images directly from the innovative American aerial photographer William Garnett (born 1916); these were added to the small number of Garnett's photographs already in the collection. Fifty-five works by Milton Rogovin (born 1909), a steadfast American social documentarian, were acquired from the artist last year. This group is complemented by recent gifts of Rogovin's work by Dr. and Mrs. John Knaus and David Knaus.

Eugène Atget (1857–1927)
Eugène Atget brought great visual curiosity to the task of documenting Paris and its surroundings. He often directed his attention to aspects of the city and its life that went unnoticed-side streets, small courtyards, shop fronts, stairwells, and seasonal street fairs-but he also made memorable images of its parks and gardens. In the thousands of pictures he made, there is not a single view of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, or other obvious subjects. A combination of lyricism and objectivity informs many of Atget's photographs. His work marks a key step in the transition from the aesthetic of the 19th century to that of the 20th and he is now recognized as one of the most influential figures in the history of photography.

Brett Weston (1911–1993)
At just 13 years of age, Brett Weston abandoned his formal education in favor of art. His decision was influenced by his father, the respected American photographer Edward Weston. Like his father, Weston came to prefer tripod-mounted view cameras, carefully planned compositions, and meticulously wrought contact prints. Weston photographed such disparate subjects as industrial architecture, city- and landscapes, and natural and man-made materials. His unwavering concern with the formal qualities of his photographs tied the remarkable diversity of his subjects into a coherent body of work. Using creative angles and framing as well as heightening contrasts, Weston emphasized a two-dimensional sense of pattern overlaying three-dimensional space. His photographs transform views of the world into balanced arrangements of light and form in which the recognizable and the abstract coexist.

William Garnett (born 1916)
Combining his imagination with skills as a photographer and a pilot, Garnett was the first to demonstrate the artistic possibilities of aerial photography. From his Cessna 170-B airplane, Garnett has photographed the changing Californian landscape for more than 40 years. Photographer Ansel Adams called Garnett's photographs "revelations" because they reveal a beauty and order that cannot be seen from an earthbound perspective. Garnett's images are carefully composed to reveal strong abstract designs formed by the repeated patterns found in both man-made and natural sites. Today, at age 87, Garnett continues to work in the hope that his art will inspire people to value and protect the enduring beauty of the American landscape.

Milton Rogovin (born 1909)
During the years of the Great Depression, Milton Rogovin, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, graduated from optometry school and moved to Buffalo in upstate New York, where he established his own shop. However, his passion lay in social activism and photography. A self-taught artist, Rogovin began walking the streets of Buffalo's lower Westside with a twin-lens reflex camera that he held at waist level and pointed upward toward his subjects. His interest in Buffalo's citizens extended to the people who manned the steel mills at the city's edge. Beginning in 1962, Rogovin spent nine summers in Appalachia, gaining access to the depressed mining communities of West Virginia and Kentucky with the help of union activists. He made portraits of miners during the workday and, later, in their homes. This dual presentation, a method of portraiture that Rogovin seems to have initiated, became his preferred mode for photographing in the 1980s, when he visited miners around the world.

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In Focus: Eugène Atget, Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum
By Gordon Baldwin
More than 50 photographs by photographer Eugène Atget (French, 1857–1927) bring attention to inconspicuous buildings, side streets, cul-de-sacs, and public sculptures in his beloved Paris. Includes commentaries, an introduction, a chronology, and a transcription of a colloquium on the photographer's life and work.
Available in the Bookstore, by calling 800-223-3431 or 310-440-7059, or online at

Photographers of Genius at the Getty
March 16–July 25, 2004
Presenting the work of innovative photographers who profoundly influenced their contemporaries and succeeding generations of artists, this exhibition celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Museum's department of photographs. It includes select prints by more than 38 photographers whose work is held in depth by the Getty, among them William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Carleton Watkins, Eugène Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, and Diane Arbus.

Spirit into Matter: The Photographs of Edmund Teske
June 15–September 26, 2004
Edmund Teske (American, 1911–1996) is one of the unheralded alchemists of 20th-century photography. Over a 60-year period he created a diverse and influential body of work. From his origins as a social documentarian, Teske went on to create richly evocative figure studies, rhapsodies on nature, views of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, studies in abstraction, and portraits of Hollywood actors and musicians.


John Giurini
Getty Communications Dept.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Grant Program. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs are based at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

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