Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1928, photographer Charles Brittin is best known for his intimate photo documentation of the L.A./San Francisco art scene in the fifties and sixties which captured mythic moments in the lives of such luminaries as Walter Hopps, Ed Kienholz, and Wallace Berman. Often associated with the California Beat Generation, his pictures convey that period's poetic, lowbrow comeraderie and provide rich insight into its collaborative community of artists, writers, and musicians. In the mid-sixties, Brittin also began focusing on the civil rights and antiwar movements, creating unique visions of social revolution spanning the American South and the California coast. While his cultural documents remain his most widely recognized pictures, he also created stunning and poetic still life photographs, and intimate portraits of women which attest to his versatility as an artist, and illustrate a more personal creative aspect of his vision. The Robert Berman Gallery is pleased to present a selection of these rare and unique vintage photographs, selected by artists Jeff Charbonneau & Eliza French, to coincide with their exhibition "Playground".
Since 1999 when gallerist Craig Krull and Walter Hopps co-curated a solo exhibition of Brittin's photographs in Santa Monica, there has been much renewed interest in his work. In 2005 Brittin's black and white portraits made an important appearance in the ground-breaking exhibition on Southern California art of the 50's and 60's "Semina Culture, Wallace Berman and His Circle," curated by Kristine McKenna and Michael Duncan. Following the success of this exhibition and the companion monograph, the Getty Research Institute acquired the artist's archive in 2008. This major acquisition included photographic prints, negatives and historical ephemera, part of which will be on exhibition in the Fall of 2011 during the Getty's city-wide project, Pacific Standard Time. Most recently Brittin's images were included in Road to Freedom:Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968 at the Skirball in Los Angeles and they will be the subject of a major exhibition to be curated by Kristine McKenna later this year. McKenna is also at the helm of the first comprehensive monograph of Brittin's photographs which will come out in the Spring of 2011.
Charles Brittin, Vintage Photographs will be on view at the Robert Berman Gallery, April 03-May 05, 2010. The Robert Berman Gallery is located at Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Gallery C2, Santa Monica, CA 90404. T. 310.315.9506 / 310.315.1937. All press inquiries may be directed to Eliza French through the gallery. www.robertbermangallery.com