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THE BUZZ: Victor Landweber’s ‘American Cameras’ Photographic Series at Joseph Bellows Gallery La Jolla

Beacon Twenty-two Five   16" x 20"  Cibachrome Print
Beacon Twenty-two Five   16″ x 20″    Cibachrome

Victor Landweber’s ‘American Cameras’ Photographic Series
Joseph Bellows Gallery – La Jolla, CA

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Victor Landweber is a conceptual artist who uses the medium of photography to create his art. American Cameras is an exhibition of fifteen 16” x 20” Cibachrome prints whose subject matter is vintage cameras of the 1940’s and 50’s. These color images are portraits, each work having a single frontal view of one camera that is centrally placed onto a black background. Landweber has carefully traced a white outline around each camera, like a ‘glowing halo’, emphasizing its shape and elevating the unique qualities of each one. This series highlights the distinctive designs and commercial viability of these retro cameras, showcasing them as objects of beauty. Each camera had unique names including Imperial Debonair, Bear Photo Special, Hopalong Cassidy, Brownie Starlet and Lady Carefree. Their ability to create images takes a back-seat to their object-hood, transforming Landweber’s photographs into commercial photographic illustrations. On a deeper level, Landweber is guiding us to ask the question ‘what is art?’ and whether the context of his presentation of the cameras meets our definition. This photographic series, created in the early 1980’s, documents the early years for the development and use of the camera and its relationship to making art.

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