Accompanying the exhibition Vera Lutter: Museum in the Camera, this book documents Vera Lutter’s ambitious residency at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, featuring images from her two-year-long photography project.
From February 2017 to January 2019, New York-based artist Vera Lutter was invited by LACMA to work in residence at the museum, creating a new body of work examining the campus architecture, galleries, and collection holdings. Vera Lutter: Museum in the Camera features the compelling photographs made during her two-year residency.
Lutter uses one of the oldest optical technologies still in use, that of the camera obscura. Before the invention of photography, it was known that if light traveled through a tiny hole into a darkened room, an image of the external world (off which the light rays had reflected) would re-form upside down on a wall opposite the tiny opening. By building room-sized cameras and placing unexposed photo paper across from a pinhole opening, Lutter has adopted the camera obscura as her singular working method, resulting in photographs with an ethereal, otherworldly beauty.
Lutter captured the exterior of the campus buildings in images that transform the mid- and late-20th-century architecture. Using an enormous camera, custom-built into the museum’s Old Masters gallery, she captured the long perspective on the classically installed room, echoing historical paintings of museum interiors. Finally, with four smaller cameras, Lutter photographed various works in the LACMA collection, transforming colorful paintings into ethereal black-and-white images. In contrast to digitized photography, which allows artists to fine-tune and perfect their product, Lutter’s analogue pinhole photographs are a refreshing reminder of the medium’s origins.
Edited by Jennifer King with contributions from Michael Govan and Noam M. Elcott