Beverly Walsh, 1958
Charles Brittin, who died in January of this year at 82 years old, stole the ethos and the zeitgeist of the 1960s West coast in all its subtle wind-blown, freckled, ocean spray glamour - as well as the political angst of youth on the verge of revolt in honor of their young ideals. Charles Brittin: West & South, a retrospective exhibition of work by Los Angeles photographer Charles Brittin, featuring more than 100 photographs, many of them previously unexhibited is on view starting tomorrow at the Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles.
Suzi Hicks, with signage from L.A.’s electric transit system, c.1956
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1928, Brittin briefly attended UCLA, then dropped out of school and taught himself how to take photographs. During the 1950s, Brittin became the unofficial house photographer for the Beat community that coalesced around the artist Wallace Berman, and contributed several photographs to Berman’s ground-breaking artist's magazine, Semina. Brittin settled in Venice Beach, California, in 1951, and his beach shack became a hangout for the Berman circle, which included actors Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper, artist John Altoon, curator Walter Hopps and poet Brittin was working as a mailman at the time, and spent much of his free time wandering the streets with a camera; he came to know Venice intimately, and his pictures of the sleepy beach town are freighted with a hushed beauty and forlorn sweetness.
Santa Monica Bay, 1950