The View From Here

Clockwise from upper left: Larry Sultan, “My Mother Posing for Me,” (1984) Henry Wessel, “Southern California,” (1985) William A. Garnett, “Contour Graded Hills, Ventura County, California” (1953) and Ansel Adams, “Clouds, from Tunnel Overlook, Yosemite National Park, California” (1934)

Children growing up everywhere, in the middle of nowhere, middle America or in the backwoods of the Northeast all have specific visions of California. Of all the states in the country, why California? Why do people I meet today tell me how when they were children all they wanted to do was go to California? One reason: photography. Whether their impressions are of the Ansel Adams variety or the vastly more popular surfer/life guard/beach bum/eternal party culture California, they can all be traced back to specific images from photography both low (think neon bikini postcards) and high.

Opening Saturday at the SFMoMA, “The View From Here” pays homage to California as seen through the lenses of some of the most pivotal American photographers. The SFMoMA, one of the first museums to treat photography as equal to painting and sculpture, has an impressive collection of everything from Gold Rush-era daguerrotypes (when negatives were made on glass), pictures by the influential Group f.64 to conceptual work from the 1970s as well as contemporary photographs.

“The View From Here” at SFMoMA from January 16 – June 27