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UNTITLED PAUL YOUNG

January 10, 2008|PAUL YOUNG

If there's one phrase I could live without, it's: "We have some more pictures of the kids -- want to see them?"

Yet as the most "personal form of literature," as Walker Evans suggested, snapshots can be stirring, especially if from a different age. That's the idea behind "The American Typologies" at Santa Monica's D3 Projects and the Vernacular Photography Fair at Santa Monica Art Studios. (d3projects.net) Both come courtesy of D3's Anais Wade and have a stunning array of what LACMA photo curator Charlotte Cotton calls "a wonderful art form that is quickly gaining cultural momentum."

But if you're drawn to the mysterious, don't miss Masao Yamamoto's show at the Craig Krull Gallery. He creates small, private images that often look as if they've lived in a wallet for 40 years. They're hand-printed on heavy paper, deeply toned, often sprinkled with gold. It gives them a genuine aura, accentuated by the fact they're often presented in groups, either in old leather boxes or pinned to the wall in seemingly random formations, "like the layered notes of an orchestra," he says. More important, they depict the most fragile moments: an empty road, birds in flight, willowy nudes, a chrysanthemum under a shower of sparks.

For me, they underscore Diane Arbus' famous line that a photograph works best when it's "a secret about a secret."

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-- theguide@latimes.com

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