MW Editions publishes Mulholland: An artist's love affair with the legendary Los Angeles road
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MW Editions publishes Mulholland: An artist's love affair with the legendary Los Angeles road
Karen Halverson, Mulholland at Multiview Drive, 1991. © 2021 Karen Halverson.

NEW YORK, NY.- American photographer Karen Halverson fell in love with Mulholland in 1988 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There she saw David Hockney’s exuberant painting, “Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio.” Halverson moved to Los Angeles a few years later, and soon discovered the real-life Mulholland, the iconic road that runs along the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains, bisecting the city. She had long been engaged in photographing the landscape of the American West. But Mulholland offered up something unique, a dramatic physical landscape in the heart of a major metropolitan area. She drove the voluptuous curves of the road countless times over the course of two years.

William Mulholland engineered a steady supply of water to naturally arid Los Angeles in 1913, thus enabling the development of the city we know today. The road bearing his name was built in 1924. Decades later, Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown”, and David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” made the Mulholland name a part of popular culture. But it’s the road that is dear to the hearts of Angelenos and of visitors from around the world.

Halverson’s sumptuous new monograph, Mulholland (MW Editions, September 2021) features forty-one of her vividly colored, panoramic photographs. Each image is presented as a double page spread, nearly two feet wide. The book’s image sequence takes you along on a thrilling fifty-two-mile drive from the Pacific Coast Highway to the famous Hollywood sign, from the arid natural landscape near the coast, to the built landscape of the Hollywood Hills.

The sinuous road, the dramatic terrain, the golden light, and the hot colors of Southern California are all captured here. But Halverson avoids romantic sentiment. Her photographs also include road signs, taillights, power lines, even a hillside draped in plastic sheeting. She finds a quirky beauty in how the natural and the manmade coexist in Los Angeles.

The book includes an engaging foreword by Los Angeles native, David Kipen, who highlights several distinct sections of Mulholland, from where it “first slithers up from the sea” to above Hollywood, where it lies “between worldliness and wilderness”.

About the Artist:

As a young adult living in New York City, Karen Halverson abandoned an academic career to take up photography. In the 1980s, she began travelling West and embarked on what became a years-long photographic exploration of the western landscape. In addition to the Mulholland series, she has completed bodies of work on the Colorado River, the Great Basin, Marfa, Texas, and the Dakotas.

Halverson holds a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University, and graduate degrees from Brandeis and Columbia Universities. She studied photography privately with Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz. Her photographic work is in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Huntington Library and Art Galleries, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, the St. Louis Museum of Art, and the Milwaukee Museum of Art, among others.

In recent years, the Beinecke Library at Yale University has acquired several hundred of Halverson’s photographs for its permanent collection, with an emphasis on her work from the American West. Her photographic monograph, Downstream: Encounters with the Colorado River, was published by the University of California Press in 2008. For more information about the artist, go here.

About the Writer:

Los Angeles native, David Kipen, holds a degree in Literature from Yale University. He has served as Book Editor/Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and Director of Literature for the National Endowment for the Arts. He is on the faculty of the Writing Programs at UCLA. Kipen is best known as editor of the critically acclaimed book Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018 (Modern Library).

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