American landscape photographer Lewis Baltz who helped lead the New Topographics movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, died November 23, 2014, reports the Washington Post. The photographer was Age 69, and had been suffering from a long illness. Baltz passed away at his home in Paris.
Through his work, the photographer would help expand the definition of landscape photography. Baltz was one of a group of photographers who contributed to the 1975 exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape,” held at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. The work presented a major departure from traditional American depictions of the landscape, the show’s photos presented stripped down, minimalist views of the landscapes, not seen before in quite the same way.
Baltz would revolutionise landscapes with the seminal 1984 photographs “The New Industrial Parks,” “Nevada,” “San Quentin Point” and “Candlestick Point” – with these works the photographer would redefine American landscape photography.
Baltz’s photography often explored urban landscapes and its ever-encroaching nature, the photographer was also interested on the impact of humans on the landscape through practical yet dull architecture such as parking garages, factories, and offices.
The photographer eschewed tendencies to romanticise or idealise the landscape as beautiful, fruitful, or prosperous, but instead Baltz embraced the banal, the man-made artifice of urban sprawl – highlighting destruction and desolation in his photos.
The photographer was born in Newport Beach in Southern California in 1945, Baltz received a degree in fine arts from the San Francisco Institute of Art in 1969, and an MFA from Claremont Graduate School, California, in 1971. Since 2002, the renouned photographer had taught photography at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Baltz will be remembered for his black-and-white photographs, presented in grid format, of a particular kind of minimalist landscape, yet of late the photographer began working with colour images when he moved to Europe starting in the late 1980s. Baltz’s work has appeared in major museums including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Lewis Baltz is survived by his wife Slavica Perkovic and his daughter Monica Baltz.