Tuesday, September 04, 2007

LeRoy Grannis, "Big Waves"

I've been hitting politics hard recently, so I feel moved to head in a different direction...

I am teaching my "America in the 60s" course this semester, so have been poking around in a variety of sources and came across these amazing surfing photos by LeRoy Grannis. Just like the hippies, the surf scene was another interesting laguna of youth culture in the 60s. These photos are drawn from the M+B Gallery website and here is what those folks have to say about the artist:
A surfer since 1931, LeRoy Grannis was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1917 and began shooting surf-culture images on 22nd Street in Hermosa in 1960 as a hobby at the suggestion of a family doctor. His work immediately appeared in the important surf culture magazines of the time including Surfer, Reef and Surfing Illustrated. He quickly became one of the sport's most important documentarians, voted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame as the number one lensman in 1966 and in 2002 was awarded SIMA's Lifetime Achievement Award. Grannis was the subject of The Surfers Journal's first ode to the master photographers in 1998 with Photo: Grannis; his work was featured in Stacy Peralta's 2002 award-winning documentary of the sport, Riding Giants; and most recently, LeRoy Grannis: Birth of a Culture was published as a limited-edition, signed collector's edition monograph by TASCHEN. The artist, who will turn ninety this year, continues to photograph the sport from his home near San Diego.
Well, dag. I'd sure like to meet that guy, wouldn't you? Here are a few of his beautiful photos (click any photo to enlarge):

When I saw these, it reminded of me of Tom Wolfe's "The Pump House Gang," which focuses on California surf culture during this period (thanks to my friend TJ for turning me on to that one back in graduate school). Here is an interesting recent article from San Diego Magazine on "The Pump House Gang" 40 years later:

"Forgiving Tom Wolfe: Four decades after publication of The Pump House Gang, the work is still a point of contention for members of the local surf culture whose lives it chronicled"

To find out more about the whole book, click here:
Tom Wolfe, "The Pump House Gang"

To check out the entire exhibition by LeRoy Grannis at the M+B Gallery website, click here:
LeRoy Grannis, "Big Waves"

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