Tuesday, June 07, 2011

interesting photos by the 1930's photographer John Gutman

Chicago 1936 car parking innovation
Detroit alter to the car advertising industry
San Fran 1936 on the way to the cart races
Lovelock Nevada, this is where a "Station wagon" term comes from. A railway station had wagons for moving luggage and freight around

He studied painting at the Staatliche Akademie für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Breslau during the mid-1920s with Otto Mueller and from 1927 to 1930 carried out graduate and post-graduate work in Berlin at Humboldt Universität and the Akademie der Künste. Between 1929 and 1932 he taught art at various schools in Berlin and Brandenburg. He began photographing in 1933 and was hired as a photojournalist by Presse-Foto in Berlin.

That same year he travelled to San Francisco, due to anti-Semitism and the rise of Hitler, which became his permanent home in 1937 when he worked as a photojournalist for Pix, Inc.He was an professor of art history, drawing, and painting at San Francisco State College from 1938-73. While there, he founded the creative photography program.

Born in German in 1905, John Gutmann trained and exhibited as a painter. Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933, he immigrated to the United States. Before leaving Germany, he bought a camera and arranged to sell photographs of America to be used in German magazines. He turned to photography as a way of earning money during the Great Depression in America when jobs were scarce.

Gutmann was fascinated with the new way of seeing the world that photography provided. He thought of the camera as a human eye, which inspired him to photograph whatever he saw, however he saw it.

His pictures showed startling new views of familiar scenes. American photographs were not always as daring and experimental with how they took photographs at that time, so his work was though of as bold and modern. At the time, this approach to angle and framing was not widely used by American photographers, but was a part of the new way of photographing that was being developed in Europe and making its way to America. Such use was considered odd and daring.

Photographing primarily in the street, Gutmann used his eye and his camera to capture the exuberance and rhythm of America. He found Americans exotic and optimistic despite the Depression and looming war. Gutmann brought a foreigner’s view to the streets of California, where he saw with fresh eyes such astonishing (to him) phenomena as multiracial crowds, drive in movies and restaurants, drum majorettes, car parks and golf links, beauty contests, tattoo parlors, and movie marquees.
photos from http://www.johngutmann.org/

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