Henry Wessel, San Francisco, 1972, black-and-white photograph, 24 x 20".

San Francisco

Henry Wessel

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
151 Third Street
January 27–April 22

Curated by Corey Keller

Based in the Bay Area for the past three decades, Henry Wessel is a highly regarded, influential photographer and educator whose early photographs were championed alongside the work of contemporaries Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand for their deadpan, flat portrayal of everyday American life experienced under searing California light. Such practices helped maneuver highbrow photography from the monumental to the ephemeral and descriptive. Paying close attention to West Coast vernacular through complex compositional means, Wessel’s pictures—some eighty of which are on view in this retrospective (curated by Corey Keller), spanning his career from 1967 to 2003—articulate subtle, and droll, social nuance and an affection for the idiosyncrasy of the late twentieth century by describing a landscape that toggles between absence and clutter, futility and significance.