The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White

BCAM, Level 2
July 22, 2012–October 14, 2012

Portraiture has always been motivated by two competing and overlapping desires: the desire to record, and the desire to be recorded. Artists Katy Grannan and Charlie White have examined this tension, exploring concepts of identity and subjectivity in a world increasingly dominated by media representations of the ideal self. The Sun and Other Stars presents two bodies of work that map the fragility and resilience of individuality in contemporary Western culture.

Grannan's unflinching portraits capture adult subjects along the sun-struck boulevards of the American West, transforming them from obscurity to individuality with pathos and candor. White's series of blonde teenage girls frames the popular and tyrannical appetite for celebrity with a deadpan lack of sentimentality. These two photographic series, accompanied by Grannan's first film project and White's new animation, A Life In B Tween, and personal collections of mass-culture ephemera, provide a visual vocabulary for an examination of the human subject and the encumbering effect of desire and aspiration.

Katy Grannan was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1969. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, and her MFA from Yale University in 1999. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Charlie White was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1972. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1995, and his MFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, in 1999. He lives in Los Angeles.

The exhibition is curated by Britt Salvesen, head of LACMA’s Wallis Annenberg Photography Department. The exhibition includes 24 photographs and a three-channel video by Katy Grannan; and approximately 50 photographs, varied ephemera, and a video animation by Charlie White.

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This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and made possible in part by LACMA’s Photographic Arts Council.

Image Top: Katy Grannan, Anonymous, San Francisco (Detail), 2009/printed 2012, Pigment Print, 28 1/8 x 21 5/8 in., LACMA, purchased with funds from Photographic Arts Council, © Katy Grannan.

Image Bottom: Charlie White, Portrait from Casting Call (Detail), 2010, Pigment Print, 11 x 17 in., LACMA, purchased with funds from the Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © Charlie White.

Anonymous, Los Angeles
Katy Grannan
2008/printed 2009
The Believers
Katy Grannan
Girl Posed
Charlie White
2008/printed 2012
Portrait from Casting Call
Charlie White

Artists Respond: Joe Biel on The Sun and Other Stars

Artist Joe Biel is the latest to take part in our Artists Respond series: web-based projects inspired by an exhibition at LACMA. Biel created this online project, called Archive (fragment).  Here’s what he had to say about his response to White and Grannan: I thought the exhibition was brilliantly curated, because both artists deal with a unified view of image but in totally different ways. There are all these things that leap to mind about society, image, entertainment, what’s real and what’s fictitious..


Q&A with Charlie White

On view now, The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White fills three galleries in BCAM with photographic portraits, videos, and other ephemera by these two California artists. Grannan’s photographs depict adults captured on the street in front of stark white walls, while White’s portraits largely depict blue-eyed blonde teenagers in a studio setting. Unframed’s Stephanie Sykes talked to White in more detail about his works in the exhibition...