New Color Photographs from Mexico and California, 1948-1955.
Photographs by Paul Outerbridge.
Nazraeli Press, Portland, 2009. 88 pp., 50 color illustrations, 12x13".
The publication of 'Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs from Mexico and California, 1948-1955' marks the discovery of a previously unknown and unpublished body of work by one of America’s earliest masters of color photography. Outerbridge built his extraordinary reputation by making virtuoso carbro-color prints of nudes and still lifes, mainly in the studio, during the 1930s. In the late 1940s and 1950s he took his camera to the streets, crossing the border between California and Mexico and photographing the people and places he found. In the tradition of such photographers as Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Anton Bruehl, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, all of whom made significant photographic forays into Mexico, Outerbridge ventured south in his 1949 black Cadillac, frequenting the seaport towns along the Baja peninsula. Shooting in bold, luminous Kodachrome, his photographs explore the quirkiness of 1950s leisure culture and examine the blending of two interwoven societies at a distinctive time in history. From governors to gauchos, and from stevedores to bathing beauties, Outerbridge captured the humanity, and occasionally the absurdity, of people as they gathered at weddings, pool parties, and picture spots. As brilliant and innovative today as when they were made, these images demonstrate a breathtaking mastery of the new art of color photography, and Outerbridge’s characteristic style and dramatic use of color anticipated the work of photographers who strove a quarter of a century later to develop a similar, bold new color vocabulary. The publication of this forgotten body of photographs includes an introduction by Outerbridge biographer Graham Howe and a preface and essay by curators William Ewing and Phillip Prodger.