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The Galleries

Wilshire Center

November 20, 1987|MICHAEL WELZENBACH

A good deal of impenetrable prose has been concocted on behalf of photographer Paul Outerbridge. He has been called a "surrealist" and a "haunting imagist."

Man Ray deserves such accolades; Outerbridge does not. His best efforts are mainly platinum prints of platinum blondes. His mature work, both professional advertising shots for coffee, doughnuts and so forth and studio compositions--mostly buxom nudes--epitomize the false bloom and post-Deco optimism of the 1940s.

Some of Outerbridge's very early prints (circa 1919)--a tiny bowl of fruit, a couple of landscapes reminiscent of Whistler etchings--hint promisingly at greater things to come. And his late work does have a decadent, kitschy appeal. His nude women are not so much erotic as childishly risque. A striking brunette (imagine a dark Maureen O'Sullivan) is photographed in a good ol' Life magazine-style pose--stiffly smiling, on a rope ladder, wearing nothing but a pair of white slippers. Others are scantily clad in gaudy, glittery costumes in the best Hollywood tradition. They look like unfrocked bobby-soxers. (G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, 7224 Melrose Ave., to Nov. 28.)

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