April 2013

Before There Was Photoshop: De Saisset Highlights One Photographer’s Innovative Style

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 2, 2013—The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University explores the work of one of California’s most significant 20th- century photographers in Seeking Answers, a new exhibit of images by Wynn Bullock(1902-1975). The show is on view April 12 – June 30, 2013, and includes six never-before-seen photographs.

Best known for his striking black-and-white photographs of landscapes and figures in nature, the  career of the Carmel-based photographer was marked by experimentation and a quest for deeper understanding. “As long as I can remember, I have been filled with a deep desire to find a means of creatively interacting with the work, of understanding what is within and around me,” he once said. “When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”

Though he was active alongside well-known California photographers Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston, Bullock’s interest in developing and working with new photographic techniques set him apart from the “straight” photography of his peers. In the 1940s, he investigated solarization, eventually earning a patent for his distinctive process. In the 1960s, he began to work with color and light, experimenting with the elements to see how they would react and interact with one another. His investigations resulted in a suite of vibrant, colorful images at a time when color photography was in its early stages. By the 1970s, Bullock was using various techniques, like negative reversals and flipped images, to enhance the photographs taken with his camera.

This exhibition features approximately 50 black-and-white photographs and six color light abstractions that speak to the breadth of works within Bullock’s portfolio. “He always wanted to push the boundaries and develop new ways of working,” said Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the de Saisset Museum. “This exhibition illustrates that on many levels. Six never-before-seen photographs that will be paired with the artist’s final prints to demonstrate his unique working process.”

The works featured in the show not only highlight his interest in experimentation, but call out a lesser known facet of his work—his inclination toward abstraction. Together the photographs illustrate Bullock’s ongoing journey to self-discovery and his search for a means of communicating nature’s mysteries through the printed image. “Searching is everything—going beyond what you know,” he said. “The test of the search is really the things themselves, the things you seek to understand. What is important is not what you think about them, but how they enlarge you.”


The museum celebrates the opening of Seeking Answers on Thursday, April 11. Beginning at 6 p.m. Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the de Saisset Museum, will lead an exclusive walk-through of the exhibition for museum members and invited guests. A free, public reception will take place on the same evening from 7-8:30 p.m.

On Thursday, May 15 at 7 p.m. Lindsey Kouvaris and Barbara Bullock-Wilson, daughter of the artist, will come together to share the stories behind the images. The program is free and open to the public.

Media Contact:
Lindsey Kouvaris | de Saisset Museum | 408-554-4528 | 408-554-7840 fax | lkouvaris@scu.edu

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