This past Sunday, December 13th, distinguished California based photographer Larry Sultan died of cancer. He was born in New York in 1946, but moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1949. He received a BA from University of California Santa Barbara in 1968 and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 1973.
It was at SFAI that he met the artist Mike Mandel, with whom he produced his first major body of work, “Evidence.” This book of appropriated photographs and catalogued images collected from a large body of government agency archives, corporations, and research institutions looks at the then contemporary American life. The body of work evolved into an exhibit hosted by SFMOMA in 1977.
In 1988, Larry Sultan began working as a professor of photography at California College of the Arts, where he grew to be an integral part of both the Graduate Fine Arts, and Undergraduate Photography programs. He was an influential mentor, teacher and colleague and received a great amount of joy from sharing his experience with his students.
Sultan produced what grew to be arguably his most recognized body of work entitled “Pictures from Home” in 1992. The project began when his father was forced into early retirement, and became the culmination of a decade of photographs of his parents and their lives, as well as an inclusion of source text, home movie stills, and family artifacts. This project ultimately led to his next body of work, “The Valley,” a look at the use of suburban houses for pornographic film sets.
Sultan has been internationally recognized and exhibited throughout his career. His work has been collected by numerous established organizations including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The New York Times obituary for Larry Sultan recounts some of his greatest achievements.