Artist Residency: Vera Lutter at LACMA

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is pleased to announce an artist project and residency with Vera Lutter that will take place February 2017–March 2018, culminating in an exhibition in fall 2018.

Lutter makes large-scale photographs using one of the oldest optical technologies still in use, that of the camera obscura. Long before the invention of photography, it was known that if light traveled through a tiny hole into a darkened room, an image of the external world (off which the light rays had reflected) would re-form upside down on a wall opposite the tiny opening. Lutter herself began to use a camera obscura in the mid-1990s after moving to New York City. Living at the time in an apartment in midtown Manhattan, she transformed one room into a room-sized camera obscura to document the city outside her window. Since then, Lutter has adopted the camera obscura as her singular working method. She builds enormous cameras out of plywood, or adapts rooms or portable structures (such as shipping containers) in order to photograph a range of sites and subjects.

For her residency at LACMA, Lutter will undertake an ambitious project with three components. First, using a custom-built mobile camera, she will document exterior views of the buildings on LACMA’s campus that are slated for demolition to make room for a new building for the museum’s permanent collection. Second, working with LACMA curators, Lutter will photograph the interiors of selected galleries to create images that follow in the grand tradition of 19th-century “gallery paintings” of museum interiors. Third, using her camera obscura method, she will photograph paintings in LACMA’s permanent collection. Although Lutter has previously photographed classical and modern sculptures, this will be her first time using her camera obscura to photograph two-dimensional works of art.

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