Since encountering the art of the late 1960s and early 70s, I’ve wanted to apply what I could learn from looking at and thinking about art to my personal photographic projects. In 1976 I completed graduate studies at UCLA where I worked with painters even though my medium was exclusively photography. I think of my studio photographs from the mid-70s to early 80s as a kind of later-day pictorialism. Like the turn-of-the-Twentieth Century Pictorialists, I modeled my photographs after paintings—in their case sentimental Impressionism, in my case Post-painterly Abstraction, Minimalist and Pop art.
In the late 1970s and early 80s I carried a small camera and photographed in color in Los Angeles. Although I didn’t speak of it this way at the time, I sought out subjects that I could photograph as if works of art. I now think of these color photographs as prologue to my recent project, “Photographs of Things That Look Like Art.”
After a hiatus, my enthusiasm for photography was restored by a combination of digital technology and wanting to photograph certain artworks. First was a digital collage project for which I placed Audubon’s pre-photographic birds into my photographs of post-industrial architecture; then an art-historical treatise about the network of connections among artists as defined through my photographs of artworks in which one artist refers to another.
My recent work furthers and clarifies this investigation: “Photographs of Things That Look Like Art” is a collection of observations of found artifacts that present themselves with the uncanny quality of authentic artworks. I want to suggest a certain purity of vision about art when an art-like experience is had although no acknowledged art is present. While not necessarily referring to specific artists or artworks, they bring to bear my experience from past projects of looking at, thinking about, and photographing works of art.
—V.L., 2015