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Jerry McMillan photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, 1957-2014

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McMillan (Jerry) photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s

Biographical / Historical

Jerry McMillan (born 1936) is a Los Angeles photographer who moved to California from Oklahoma City in 1957 to study at Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts). McMillan played a vital role as a documenter of the mid-century Los Angeles art scene. Collaborating closely with artists, including fellow Oklahomans Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode, he helped them craft their own brands by posing them in ways that reflected their personas. Ruscha, Judy Chicago, and Barbara T. Smith are among the artists whose public images came to be widely recognized, thanks to the often whimsically staged role-playing he captured them performing. While McMillan is known primarily as a photographer and designer of catalogues for other artists' exhibitions, he also developed his own artistic expression using photography as an experimental medium integrated with other media and techniques. He is one of the pioneers of photo-sculpture, and was a dedicated creator of photographic three-dimensional objects throughout his career. Ten of McMillan's photo-sculptures, including the sculptures known as "paper bags" that are included in the GRI holdings, were included in the landmark 1970 exhibition Photography into Sculpture, curated by Peter C. Bunnell at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which also traveled to several venues in the United States and Canada. They were also included in a re-created Photography into Sculpture exhibition at Cherry and Martin Gallery in Los Angeles in 2011-2012, and a restaged version called The Photographic Object, organized by Hauser + Wirth Gallery in New York in July 2014.

Sources consulted: Peckman, Steven. Jerry McMillan: Exhibition at California State University, Northridge, Art Galleries, February 11-March 31, 2012. Northridge: California State University, Northridge, 2012.

Isotta Poggi, Acquisition Approval Form for the Jerry McMillan photographs of the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s and 1970s, accession no. 2015.M.10, January 16, 2015.

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