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A detail from Dear Bill Gates, 1999, a partial gift from Sally Stein, in memory of her husband Allan Sekula.

Getty Institute Acquires Allan Sekula Archive

Los Angeles’s Getty Institute announced that it has acquired the Allan Sekula papers, ca. 1960–2013, comprising four hundred boxes of correspondences, illustrations, photographs, notebooks, and research materials that highlight his practice as an artist, writer, filmmaker, and critic. The institute is currently processing and cataloguing the collection.

An American documentary photographer, Sekula was heavily influenced by Conceptual art, postmodernism, and the history of photography. He often combined modes of photography, cinema, and literature, and addressed the impact of globalization in his works. Sekula served as a professor at the California Institute of the Arts from 1985 until his death in 2013. He was a prolific writer, and his essays were featured in a number of publications, including Artforum. His first book, Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works 1973–83 (1984), impacted the way in which the documentary function of photography was conceptualized. Sekula was the recipient of various fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Getty Research Institute, and the Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst, among others.

In a recent Critics’ Pick on artforum.com, Andy Campbell discussed an exhibition of Sekula’s works at Los Angeles’s Christopher Grimes Gallery. Noting the artist’s interests in photographic deconstruction and Marxist ideas about labor, Campbell writes: “The photographs, like the text, swing wildly between moments of hilarious hamming and more caustic critique.”

In October 2016, the Clark Art Institute was gifted the artist’s personal library of fifteen thousand volumes from Sekula’s wife, art historian and educator Sally Stein. It is housed in the recently reopened Manton Research Center.

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