Lewis Baltz, a star of the New Topographics movement of the late 1960s and 70s, has died. According to his longtime gallerist Theresa Luisotti, the photographer passed away at his home in Paris, France, on Saturday, November 22, 2014 of complications related to cancer and emphysema. He was 69 years old.

Along with Robert Adams, Frank Gohlke and Stephen Shore, Baltz was a major contributor to the New Topography, a movement that broadened the scope of landscape photography, famously bursting onto the art scene with the famed exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape,” at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, in 1975. Baltz is best known for his bleak suburban landscapes—stark images of manmade structures devoid of human presence—such as those in his seminal 1974 book, The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California.

"The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California"

“South Wall Mazda Motos, 2121 East Main Street, Irvine” on the original cover of “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California” as published by Castelli Graphics in 1974.

Baltz was born in Newport Beach, California, on September 12, 1945. His parents owned a mortuary business. The rapidly developing Southern California suburbs heavily influenced Baltz; he witnessed firsthand the cities’ sprawl, devouring the landscape with concrete and asphalt as it spread.

He was exposed to photography and art as a teen, when he took a job working in a camera store in Laguna Beach and was mentored by its owner, William Current. He would study at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Claremont Graduate School.

After the “New Topographics” show at Eastman House, the Castelli Gallery in New York exhibited work from The New Industrial Parks, and by 1977, his work was included in the Whitney Biennial.

His books Park City (1980) and San Quentin (1984)would form an informal trilogy with The New Industrial Parks, exploring the role of humanity’s use of technology to shape the American landscape. The exploration would culminate in his 84-image Candlestick Point project, which documented an open space between an airport and sports stadium where, thanks to development, all signs of nature had been stamped out.

Baltz moved to Europe in the late 1980s, began working with color, and eventually started teaching graduate courses at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He is survived by his wife Slavica Perkovic and his daughter Monica Baltz.

Tags:

COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Workshop Preview: Aline Smithson’s “Cuba with Intention”

Posted by on Wednesday November 22, 2017 | Fine Art, Uncategorized

Fine art photographer and Lenscratch founder Aline Smithson will lead the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops “Cuba with Intention” workshop in Camagüey, Cuba from February 4 to 12 2018. “I often review portfolios of photographers who have made work during travel to far flung places,” Smithson says. “Often times the portfolios are beautifully shot, but ultimately... More

Long Reads for Traveling Photographers

Posted by on Tuesday November 21, 2017 | Fashion, Fine Art, Media

If you happen to be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, fighting your way through a stiff current of people like a spawning salmon returning instinctively to your home waters, you may find yourself sitting for long periods of time, wondering: “How did I get here? What should I read?” For help with that second question,... More

Q&A: Yancey Richardson on Gender Diversity in the Art World

Posted by on Wednesday September 20, 2017 | Fine Art

A study published this spring by The City University of New York’s Guttman College argued that the art world remains predominantly white and male. Nearly 70 percent of the artists represented at 45 prominent New York galleries were male, the study suggested. One exception to this trend is Yancey Richardson, who represents 18 women and... More