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PRINT January 1980

John Gutmann: A Transported Vision

JOHN GUTMANN’S VISION OF America in the 1930s is unlike any other pictorial record of the time. Newly arrived from Germany with a virtually unused camera, he determined to make photography his second profession after painting. This was a time in America when photography, in paradoxical opposition to the economic poverty of the country as a whole, was a fertile field: fashion and advertising photography blossomed out of modern antecedents of the ’20s; the f/64 group made a public debut with its exhibition in 1932 at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco; the Farm Security Administration began its epic documentation in 1935, and a year later, Life magazine emerged, one of the most typically American cultural enterprises we have yet seen. The pristine tradition of the f/64 group exerted a tremendous influence on younger photographers up through the ’60s, and even longer in some

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