Malcolm Lubliner was in the right place at the right time. The artist had been working and teaching in Southern California for a number of years before he became a full-time photographer in 1968. Entrenched in Los Angeles’s burgeoning art scene, Lubliner was hired as a contract photographer for the publishing workshop Gemini G.E.L. to document its behind-the-scenes activities. He would later become the official photographer for the Art and Technology Program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which paired artists with technology companies in the region.
Lubliner’s collection of negatives, contact sheets, and prints—newly catalogued as part of the special collections at the Getty Research Institute—showcases some of the 20th century’s most notable artists and demonstrates his insight into their artistic processes.
Lubliner photographed the technical and collaborative efforts that went into producing iconic works such as Jasper Johns’s Numerals, Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Ice Bag, and Frank Stella’s Protractor series, while also creating intimate portraits of the individual artists as the driving forces behind them. He captured artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Irwin, Richard Serra, John Altoon, and Sam Francis at work both at Gemini and in their own studios. Also present in many of the photographs are staff members of Gemini, including Kenneth Tyler and Stanley Grinstein.
An equally important part of the collection are Lubliner’s photographs of social events that were held by Los Angeles’s prominent art collectors and dealers. Accomplished and rising artists alike mingled and celebrated with the art world’s movers and shakers, such as Leo Castelli, Betty Asher, and Maurice Tuchman, establishing partnerships that would help define their careers.
Much like the tumultuous era in which they were created, these images, along with Lubliner’s photographs of concerts and performances by artists such as Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton, reflect the palpable energy of Los Angeles’s rise as the thriving center of the arts on the West Coast.
The collection is open to qualified researchers, with the online finding aid accessible here.
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