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 (197375), through which Baltz fundamentally reformed the genre of landscape photography, thereby addressing the disastrous impact of technology on society in the twentieth century.
Baltzs imagery reveals itself as thoroughly innovative: in formally rigid photographs, such as in the series The Prototype Works (196776), 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, Baltzs 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 (198991). 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 Baltzs work. This contextualization is meant to present the complexity of Lewis Baltzs oeuvre 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.