PRINT Summer 1966


The Widening Stream. Poems by Richard Mack, photographs by Wynn Bullock.

The Widening Stream, poems by Richard Mack, photographs by Wynn Bullock (Peregrin Publications, Monterey, California), 1965. 2000 copies printed.

Because Wynn Bullock has worked in the same geographical region and often in the same forms, his work has too often been eclipsed by the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Both Adams and Weston are more prolific photographers, and Bullock’s carefully considered seeing can in no way compete with Adams’ flamboyant grandeur or Weston’s flamboyant sensuality. Bullock’s work has been seen occasionally in group shows in the Bay Area—perhaps he is best known for the photograph of moonlight shimmering on the curve of a stream as it meets the sea, which was blown large for the lead photograph of “The Family of Man” in 1955 with the title, “And God said, let there be light,” and is reproduced as the lead photograph in “The Widening Stream” in its normal size—and in the fall of 1964, he had a one-man show at Toren Gallery. But except for a few prints reproduces in “aperture” some years ago, “The Widening Stream” is the only convenient way to take home several of Bullock’s prints to contemplate them at leisure. “The Widening Stream” reproduced 13 of Bullock’s best known photographs, 11 black-and-white, 2 color, and faces each print with a short poem by Richard Mack.

Bullock is preoccupied with space and time, not only the segment of space and the instant of time reflected by the photograph, but space and time as metaphysical entities, and the photographs selected show his quest for layers of reality. On an eroded hillside, the roots of bushes have been exposed as the hillside has slipped away, and we know that in a short time, the bushes themselves will topple over the brink, and the tall, triangular columns of the eroded soil may be seen as hungry fingers eating the land. It is interesting to compare Bullock’s photographs of nudes in old buildings with Edward Weston’s photographs of the same subject. Weston’s nudes are vibrant and erotic; Bullock’s nudes are calm and completely asexual. The two color abstractions seem here, as before, to be painting-imitations, and their inclusion in the book breaks the contemplative mood that the black-and-white photographs have created. The photographs are beautifully reproduced. Compared with the originals, the reproductions have lost none of the richness and full range of tones. “The Widening Stream” is a welcome change from the glut of books by and about Adams and Weston.

Margery Mann