Henry Wessel

January 27–April 22, 2007

For nearly 30 years, Bay Area photographer Henry Wessel has observed and documented the brilliant light, vernacular architecture, and social landscape of California. Wessel first gained critical attention in the 1970s as part of a generation of young photographers who questioned and expanded two seemingly fixed categories: landscape and documentary photography. Since that time, he has continued to draw his inspiration from the aesthetics of the everyday, turning the least monumental of subjects — traffic lights, advertisements, suburban homes — into a kind of personal poetry. Wessel’s keen-eyed observations share the spontaneity and honesty of snapshots, but are inflected with his own wry humor. The approximately 80 black-and-white and color photographs in the exhibition span Wessel’s career and include several early works never before exhibited.

This exhibition is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is supported by Foto Forum. This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Sally Lilienthal.

Henry Wessel, Oklahoma, 1975; collection SFMOMA, gift of Maggie Keating; © Henry Wessel