Jane Gottlieb is a photographer living in Southern California, where she was born and raised. In her early 20s, she made her first trip by herself as a young professional to Paris. The images she took then, and in many subsequent trips, have been a touchstone of her life’s work. She has returned to them repeatedly in the last decades, changing them progressively to meet her vision of France as the technology available to her has advanced.
But Gottlieb’s vision of France is not like anyone else’s. It is riotous in color, hyper-vibrant in energy and deeply Californian, shot through with a purely Mexican palette. When she discovered the possibility of hand-painting cibachrome prints, she had the tools to change the world to match her vision. Printing from her library of color slides, she could brighten them up and give them a new exciting life.
The possibility of saturated, unrealistic color was released from Pandora’s box, not to cause trouble but to irritate the eye like a grain of sand in an oyster, producing pearls of perception.
The first cibachromes were laborious in creation and appeared tinted but were already unlike anything other photographers were doing. The palette was more acidic and brighter as well than other manipulated color photography of the time. With digital technology this began to change even more dramatically. She was limited at first by the software and the quality of printing, but over the last decade, these limits have been removed. At the same time, her images and her color have moved further into the realm of sharp-toned fantasy.
She has returned again and again to the same handfuls of images. A startling number of them are of her photographs of France.
The exhibition, which is on view through April 29, 2018, at the AD&A Museum, UC Santa Barbara, includes 20 works by Gottlieb, which survey both the development of her techniques and the specific motifs she has concentrated on in France. The photographs range in date from the late 1970s to the mid-1990’s and the prints from the early 1980s to the present. In addition, the exhibition includes, by way of contrast, late 19th-century photographs and postcards, which express the typical way photographers and visitors have viewed France, and highlight the originality of Gottlieb’s images.
With the cibachromes and then her digital prints, the power of Gottlieb’s vision has been widely recognized. Her work has been exhibited internationally and locally, from Basel, Lisbon, London, Paris, Rome and Milan to New York City and Denver as well as Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. In addition to being included in countless group exhibitions, she has had solo exhibitions in museums from the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio, to the Laguna and Monterey Art Museums in California as well as at the Peterson Auto Museum and the LA County Natural History Museum (for her well-known photographs of vintage automobiles and her images of gardens). Public, corporate and institutional collections that hold her work range from the Brookings Institute to EMI Records, the Disney Art Collection and the Frederick & Marcia Weisman Foundations.
At UCLA, where her work has been displayed for many years, she has lent work to the Medical Center, the Luskin Center, the Law School and the Anderson School (not surprisingly, UCLA is her alma mater) where over 100 of her artworks have been displayed. Clearly, Gottlieb’s work resonates across a broad range of viewers and interests.
Talk: Looking at France with Jane Gottlieb
Thursday, April 26, 2018 – 5:30 p.m.
In conversation with Director Bruce Robertson, photographer Jane Gottlieb reflects on her love-affair with France. She discusses how her evolving photographic process has allowed her to refine her vision of France, making her images bolder and denser, embodying through color the complex memories and emotions she brings to her experience.