February 1, 2012
Paul Outerbridge was a designer and illustrator in New York before turning to photography in the 1920s. His early work, influenced by Paul Strand, consisted primarily of still-life abstractions of ordinary objects such as cups, light bulbs, milk bottles, machine parts, and eggs.
In 1925, having established himself as an innovative advertising photographer and graphic designer, he moved to Paris and worked for the French edition of Vogue magazine. He became friends with the artists and photographers Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and Berenice Abbott.
Paul Outerbridge, saltine box, Platinum print, 1922
In 1929 Outerbridge returned to New York and set up a country studio where he began to do challenging work in carbro color photography. Achieving mastery quickly, he became a successful commercial color photographer and worked in earnest on his color nude studies.
Moving to California in 1943 and taking up residence in Laguna Beach, Outerbridge made his last important body of work throughout California and Mexico. Between 1948 and until his death in 1958 he codified a new language in color photographs (in particular the carbro-color process) that anticipated the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and others known for their “New Color” work in the 1970s.
Paul Outerbridge, ‘Gas Station, Mexico’, c.1950
This body of work from California and Mexico was shot in bold, luminous Kodachrome, his photographs explore the quirkiness of 1950s leisure culture. This forgotten body of photographs bridges the art historical gap between modern and contemporary practice.