Saturday, September 24, 2016

Anthony Hernandez at SFMOMA

Evie, LA, 1962
Young Mexican Men, LA, 1952
Hernandez was born and raised in East LA, the son of a machinist and a meat packing worker. Following two years of study at East Los Angeles College and two years of service in the United States Army as a medic in the Vietnam War, Hernandez took up photography in earnest around 1970. His early work emulated the street photography of Gary Winogrand, although his work is far less impulsive and more focused on the social landscape of LA, highlighting the cultural difference of class and race. From the gritty to the graceless, there is little that escaped Hernandez's discerning eye.

The show at SFMOMA of approximately 150 photographs inaugurates the museum's new Pritzker Center for Photography. The exhibition presents the full scope of Hernandez’s long and prolific career, from his original focus on urban decay and angst to his current work with images which are more surrealistic and abstract. His debt to Bruce Conner (also due a retrospective in October at SFMOMA) is understated but emotionally tangible; if it's not the apocalypse now, it certainly will be later.

Hernandez (NY Times) “Some people ask, ‘What's so important or compelling about taking pictures of such unpleasant subjects like city dwellers?’ … My work may be beautiful or it might not be, that just isn't what I am concerned with. I try to be open and face the city. … To me it's not unpleasant or unbeautiful, it's just life – which has to be threatening sometimes if it is going to be interesting."

Discarded #50
 All images courtesy of SFMOMA

Anthony Hernandez
On View: September 24, 2016 — January 1, 2017

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA, 94103

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I had never heard of this gentleman or seen his work before. His photography is raw and real. As he says, beauty wasn't the reason. I think it's good to see these images from what now is the distant past.