The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today a major gift of photographs from collector and film industry executive Bruce Berman. The donation comprises 186 works by twenty-six artists, seven of whom are entering the Getty’s collection for the first time. Among the artists represented in the gift are Harry Callahan, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Camilo José Vergara.
Berman, a Los Angeles resident who serves as chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures, is a founding member of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Photographs Council. He amassed his collection based on an interest in the documentation of twentieth-century architecture, design, and lifestyles in Southern California, and sought out photographers whose work underscores a growing appreciation of documentary photography as an American art form.
“As an avid photographer in my teenage years, my appreciation for photographs has evolved into collecting unique snapshots of urban life,” Berman said. “It gives me great pride to share these wonderful works with the Getty and future generations of Los Angelenos.” Together with 550 photographs donated from 1998 to 2009, Berman has now donated more than seven hundred photographs to the museum.
The largest body of work included in the gift is sixty-seven photographs by Camilo José Vergara, who has spent more than four decades recording poor, urban, and minority neighborhoods across the United States. Berman’s gift includes the photographer’s work in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York, complementing nineteen works by Vergara already in the Getty’s collection.
Other areas of the country are represented in Birney Imes’s and Mike Smith’s portrayal of the rural south, Joel Sternfeld’s documentation of experimental utopias in America, William Larson’s “Tucson Garden” series, and Martin Parr’s photographs of Boring, Oregon.
“We are profoundly grateful to Bruce for his continued support of the Getty Museum’s photographs collection,” said director Timothy Potts. “This donation, coupled with his earlier contributions, will transform the quality and depth of our holdings of numerous photographers, while also introducing the work of important new artists.”