Social Documentary: Brassaï, Arbus & Goldin to be celebrated at MOCA, Los Angeles | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Social Documentary: Brassaï, Arbus & Goldin to be celebrated at MOCA, Los Angeles

Nan Goldin's "Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston," 1973, cibachrome print, 11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm)
(courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Nimoy Family Foundation)

Opening in the spring is a tribute to three of the most compelling and influential photographers of the 20th century. Brassaï, Diane Arbus, and Nan Goldin are the three artists in question, each of whom have had photobooks published by the exhibition’s host, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

“Real Worlds: Brassï, Arbus, Goldin” will open at the Los Angeles museum on March 4, 2018.

These modern life photographs by are drawn largely from MOCA’s exceptional photograph acquisitions, providing opportunities to explore the ways in which the featured photographers use the lens to reflect and transform the world around them.

“Real Worlds” presents an exceptional collection of around a 100 works by the three artists. These include Brassaï’s unforgettable images of the nocturnal denizens of Paris, Arbus’ most significant and unsettling portraits, and Goldin’s poignant memoir of herself and her community. The show is structured around MOCA’s photograph holdings that appear in three illustrious photobooks: Brassaï’s “The Secret Paris of the 30’s” (1976), the posthumous “Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph” (1972), and Goldin’s “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” (1986).

“The Secret Paris of the 30s” documents the nocturnal and seductive city in the 1930s. From its exuberant nightclubs to its covert brothels, and a demimonde who with the coming war, was on the verge of disappearing — Brassaï went on to capture the “behind the facades” of Paris’ illustrious nightlife, and published them 40 years later.

The exhibition also features “Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph” — a collection indelible photographs by Arbus from the 1960s and early 1970s. These photographs capture a diverse range of individuals — from nudists to suburban families to people pushing the boundaries of gender.

“The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” by Goldin is the most recent series of work included in the exhibition. These include raw and intimate color photographs documenting the social lives of the artist and a bohemian cast of characters during the 1970s and 1980s in Boston, New York and Berlin. In addition to the photographs, the display includes a digital presentation of Goldin’s original 35mm-slide installation “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” (1985) allows viewers to experience the artist’s photographs as both static and moving images.

Spanning more than 60 years, the exhibited works at “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin” track a dynamic history of how the representation of personality and the category of “social documentary” were challenged and newly conceived in the 20th century, and how photobooks have contributed to this history. The show provides a chance to explore nearly a century of enduring and influential photographs, works which continue to resonate with intimacy and immediacy in the present-day image-filled world.

“Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin” will be on view from March 4, 2018, to September 3, 2018, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA

For details, visit:

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.