San Francisco

“Photography in California 1945–1980”

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

“Photography in California 1945–1980,” a traveling exhibition featuring 250 photographs by 50 photographers, is a poor attempt at a historical survey. Organized by this museum (an institution that has collected and shown photography since the ’30s), the exhibition is inexplicably bereft of historical perspective, connoisseurship, and the most basic art-historical scholarship. Though conceived as a survey of the past three and a half decades, the show consists predominantly of works made after 1975; the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s are dealt with as a mere introduction to the creative apogee that Louise Katzman, an assistant curator at the museum and the show’s organizer, sees in the late ’70s. This curatorial near-sightedness makes for startling omissions: the most significant is Ansel Adams, who not only directly influenced postwar photography through his own work, but, in 1946, founded the

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