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LEWIS BALTZ
[b. 1945] American visual artist, philosopher and photographer
I hope that these photographs are sterile, that there's no emotional content. - Lewis Baltz, Disappearing Witness: Change in Twentieth-Century American Photography by Gretchen Garner , ISBN: 0801871670
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I wanted [my photography] to appear as though the camera was seeing by itself. - Lewis Baltz

If you read what, say, Weston was writing in the 1920s he talked about an industrial medium, reflective surfaces, contemporary subject matter—it’s a straighter line to [Ed] Ruscha’s 26 Gas Stations than it would ever be to Ansel Adam’s pictures of Yosemite and their kitschy calendar sensibility. - Lewis Baltz

The ideal photographic document would appear to be without author or art. - Lewis Baltz

...you don’t put an object in a museum because it’s beautiful; an object is beautiful because you put it in a museum. Everything is photogenic once it has been photographed. - Lewis Baltz

I assumed from the outset that photography was already art, and that I and other people working in photography were artists. I understand now that this was a minority point of view. - Lewis Baltz

I was living in Monterey, a place where the classic photographers—the Westons, Wynn Bullock and Ansel Adams—came for a privileged view of nature. But my daily life very rarely took me to Point Lobos or Yosemite; it took me to shopping centers, and gas stations and all the other unhealthy growth that flourished beside the highway. It was a landscape that no one else had much interest in looking at. Other than me. - Lewis Baltz

…the questioning of the photograph in its relation to the reality, the interrogation of representation, the famous crisis of representation, really all took place before digital technology. Digital technology, you see, is not the villain here. - Lewis Baltz

The world was already in the condition of art, waiting to be noticed as such. As Robert Irwin famously said, “I feel like a man sitting beside a river selling water.” - Lewis Baltz

It might be more useful, if not necessarily more true, to think of photography as a narrow, deep area between the novel and film. - Lewis Baltz

I used photography to distance myself from a world that I loathed and was powerless to improve. - Lewis Baltz

At that time a lot of the world was oddly obscene to photography—that is it couldn’t be portrayed… There seemed to be a horror of facing the environment that we’d made for ourselves. I felt, “Okay, this is the hand that you’ve dealt me—these are the fruits of mid-period American capitalism that you’ve given us. Well, look at them. - Lewis Baltz

Art schools, it seems to me, can be pretty great places. If you do nothing more than hang out a sign saying ‘Art School’ a lot of interesting, creative people will start coming through the door. - Lewis Baltz

I believed it was necessary to investigate photography, dismantle it, jettison all the non-essential components, and begin again with a stripped down but more powerful idea of what is, or could be “photographic.” - Lewis Baltz

Photographs no longer provoke a meditation upon external phenomena, but on the conditions of their own existence. - Lewis Baltz

It was almost a taboo to photograph the ordinary daily existence around you, all the things that would eventually also become clichés of photography. - Lewis Baltz

Single frames in films don’t really work... whereas single-frame photographs are made that way. - Lewis Baltz

I never did [understand L.A.], really: I always believed that God would destroy L.A. for its sins. Finally I realized that He had already destroyed it, and then left it around as a warning. - Lewis Baltz

..photographs, taken individually, have very limited powers to define the world. - Lewis Baltz

While one image may be more interesting or appealing than another, each photograph is of equal importance and requires the context of the entire body of work to make its meaning fully understood. Like scenes from a film, the individual photograph, when removed from the series, is a fragment. - Lewis Baltz

The successful mission of photography was to deliver the world and all its contents into the category of the picturesque. None of which has anything to do with art. - Lewis Baltz

[Mixed-media photography] was genuinely an attempt to take photography beyond the physical limitations of the unaltered photographic print and enhance it with the plasticity, object-hood and visual surface of the other graphic arts. This work failed to gain wide acceptance outside the academic world... the complexity of the fracture usually took precedent over the nominal content of the work. - Lewis Baltz

Coming from Orange County… I was trying to find a vocabulary to mediate my sense of unspeakable horror at being born when and where I was. - Lewis Baltz

We grew up in a world of images. So the veneration once given to an image is gone. - Lewis Baltz

I thought art was a noble profession, because it was one of the few things one did in the world that was done for its own sake, and not for an ulterior motive. - Lewis Baltz

I hope that these photographs are sterile, that there’s no emotional content. - Lewis Baltz

I saw a world that was being shoved down my throat, and I thought by putting up a mirror to it I could show it to itself. - Lewis Baltz

I didn’t like the world of photography. I didn’t like the culture of photography. I feel the same way today. (2011) - Lewis Baltz

I think being a photographer is a little like being a whore: if you’re really really good at it, nobody will call you that. - Lewis Baltz

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