Photographer Charles Brittin died in January, and the sparkling show of his work from the 1950s and ‘60s at Michael Kohn makes a fine tribute. The exhibition also serves as a teaser to the array of Pacific Standard Time offerings due to start unfurling in the fall, adding more and more texture to our understanding of postwar culture in L.A.
In 1951, Charles Brittin, a mailman and amateur photographer, moved to Venice, Calif., and began to photograph his surroundings: the desolate streets and misty midways, the oil derricks erected by the beach and the vibrant Beat community, with the artist Wallace Berman at its core, that gathered regularly at Brittin’s apartment for impromptu parties. He never intended for these images to be exhibited, but now many of them, as well as his later work documenting the civil rights movement, are being shown for the first time in “Charles Brittin: West and South,” a retrospective exhibition opening this Saturday in Los Angeles at the Michael Kohn Gallery, and in the beautiful companion monograph published by Hatje Cantz.
Kristine McKenna, the curator of “Charles Brittin: West & South,” a retrospective of more than 100 of Brittin’s photographs opening April 16 at the Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, first found herself at the artist’s house in Venice Beach for the same reason many of his subjects ended up there in the 1950s and 60s—she was following the seminal leader of the California Beat community, Wallace Berman. “I initially went to see Charles because the Kohn Gallery represents the Wallace Berman estate. Charles was the only one that really photographed Wallace, and Wallace would bring a lot of the people who hung out at Charles’s place,” McKenna explains.
1928 Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2011 Died in Los Angeles, CA
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