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Wynn Bullock: photographs Paperback – 1969

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Wynn Bullock was a consummate practitioner of the craft of photography, using the tools of his trade to express himself with eloquence. He is not easily placed within his chosen field, however, as he kept challenging and redefining the medium.

Born in Chicago (April 18, 1902) and raised in South Pasadena, California, Wynn's boyhood passions were athletics and singing. The latter became his first career, and it was not until he was giving concerts in Europe in the mid-1920's that he became intrigued with another means of expression that felt more directly creative than his own. Discovering the paintings of the Impressionists and post-Impressionists as well as the photographs of Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, he experienced an immediate affinity with these artists and their explorations with light. As a result, he bought a simple box camera and began making pictures. Photography remained a hobby, however, until 1938 when he enrolled in the Los Angeles Art Center School. There he concentrated his efforts in experimental imagery. Three years later, his work was showcased in one of the L.A. County Art Museum's early solo photography exhibitions.

Although Wynn earned a good living as a commercial photographer, it was in his personal work that he found his greatest fulfillment. During the 1940's, as a continuation of his interest in experimental processes, he conducted pioneering research to control the line effect of solarization. For the methodology he developed, he was awarded patents in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.

A major turning point in Wynn's life as a creative photographer occurred in 1948 when he met Edward Weston. Inspired by the power and beauty of Weston's prints, he began to explore "straight" photography for himself. Throughout the decade of the 50's, he devoted himself to developing his own vision, establishing deep, direct connections with nature. A lifelong learner, he also read widely in the areas of physics, General Semantics, philosophy, psychology, eastern religion, and art. Studying the work of such people as Einstein, Korzybski, Whitehead, Russell, Lao Tzu, and Klee, he kept evolving his own dynamic system of principles and concepts that both reflected and nurtured his creative journey.

During the early sixties, Wynn departed from black and white imagery and produced a body of work he referred to as "color light abstractions." For him, these photographs represented an in-depth exploration of light, manifesting his belief that light is a great force at the heart of all being, "perhaps," as he said, "the most profound truth in the universe."

By the mid-60's, Wynn was ready to explore the mysteries of light and life from new perspectives. Differentiating what he termed "reality," the visible and the known, from "existence," the underlying truth of things, he was ceaseless in his attempts to expand his own faculties of perception and understanding so he could come ever closer in his experiences to the essence of things. Finding the means to more fully evoke that essence in his photographs was also a key part of his quest. Although he included several different processes (extremely long time exposures, multiple images, up-side-down and negative printing) in his repertoire of techniques, each was always used in the service of symbolizing new ways of relating to and knowing the world.

In the early 70's, Wynn embarked on a new leg of his photographic journey, one that was cut short by incurable cancer. Wynn died in Monterey, California, onNovember 16, 1975. Many of his photographs from that period reveal light emanating from within the heart of things, life glowing and pulsing with energy and vitality. Other photographs are of natural forms that depict or suggest universal human qualities, humanity "deeply embedded in" and re-united with nature.

As a master photographer, Wynn was one of five artists whose archives established the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography. His work may also be found in the permanent collections of over 80 major institutions throughout the world as well as in numerous publications.

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