Turning Heads and Claiming Grounds

Though not a household name like William Eggleston (born 1939),  Pete Turner (born 1934) has also earned his place in Americana photography using dye transfer prints. A recent Eggleston exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) reminding me of the oeuvre of his contemporary.

Turner uses saturated color tones to a similar effect as Eggleston. His subjects are made to appear larger than life, a result of using bold colors and manipulating the viewer’s frame of reference, an effect familiar in Eggleston’s famous tricycle photograph (1969–70).

Pete Turner, August – Wainscott, N.Y., 1973

Pete Turner, Truck Stop – Utah, 1974

The LACMA exhibition also showcased some of Eggleston’s more recent work in Kyoto. Decades earlier, Turner too used his acumen of animate and inanimate objects outside continental borders, exploring subjects in Kenya, Sweden, Iceland, and more.

Pete Turner, Old Age – Stockholm, 1968

It is in both these men’s work that we sense a dislocation of the subject from their real world surroundings. Specifically present in Turner’s work, the striking color contrast heightens the subject’s sense of alienation. The subjects, however, possess an awareness of their surroundings and a stoic outlook in the face of isolation. Pete Turner, as the man behind the camera, similarly establishes his place in American photography.

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