The Prototype Works

Steidl, 2011

Baltz’s work exemplifies the way in which photography, beginning some four decades ago, started to loose the bonds of its isolation within its own segregated history and aesthetics and began to take its place as an equal among other media“, Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art.

His entire work is focused on the counter-aesthetic of photography, searching beauty in desolation and destruction.  Baltz images describe the architecture of the human landscape, offices, factories, and parking lots.  His pictures are the reflection of control, power, and influences by and over human beings.  His minimalist photographs in the trilogy Ronde de Nuit, Docile Bodies, and Politics of Bacteria, picture the void of the “other”.  In 1974 he captured the anonymity and the relationships between inhabitation, settlement, and anonymity in The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California (1974).

His books and exhibitions, his “topographical work”, such as The New Industrial Parks, Nevada, San Quentin Point, Candlestick Point (84 photographs documenting a public space near Candlestick Park, ruined by natural detritius and human intervention), exposing the crisis of technology and of man, had an enormous influence on a generation of photographers trying to define both objectivity and the role of the artist in photography.  The author of the primary text for Lewis Baltz: Prototype Works is Matthew S. Witkowsky, Chief Curator and Chair of the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago.