The J. Paul Getty Museum’s robust photography collection is growing even larger: A gift of 186 works by 26 artists is coming from film executive Bruce Berman.
Berman, a founding member of the museum’s Photographs Council, had already contributed during the last two decades about 550 pieces to a collection with tens of thousands of works. In 2006-07, the Getty exhibited “Where We Live: Photographs of America From the Berman Collection.”
Berman’s newest gift consists of both black-and-white and color images in the American documentary tradition.
“As an avid photographer in my teenage years, my appreciation for photographs has evolved into collecting unique snapshots of urban life,” Berman said in the announcement. “It gives me great pride to share these wonderful works with the Getty and future generations of Los Angelenos.”
The new gift from Berman, chairman and chief executive of Village Roadshow Pictures (producer of “The Lego Movie” and “The Matrix” trilogy), includes works by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Harry Callahan. The largest body of work by any one photographer is 67 photographs by Camilo José Vergara documenting poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Los Angeles, New Jersey and New York. They join 19 Vergara photographs the Getty already owns.
Berman’s gift introduces seven artists to the Getty’s collection: Alice Attie, Esko Männikkö, Michael C. McMillen, Henry Horenstein, Julian Wasser, Alfred Seiland and John Vachon.
“This donation, coupled with his earlier contributions, will transform the quality and depth of our holdings of numerous photographers, while also introducing the work of important new artists,” Getty Museum Director Timothy Potts said. “By focusing broadly on the theme of life in late-20th century America, Bruce effectively created a photographic survey of the landscape, buildings and lifestyles of the era. We are very fortunate in being able to draw upon such a rich archive for future exhibitions and look forward to showcasing the works in upcoming shows.”
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