The Getty Has Acquired 35 of the Late Artist Laura Aguilar’s Powerful Photos of Marginalized People and Her Own Body—See Highlights Here
A selection of the newly acquired photographs will be included in a show at the Los Angeles museum this December.
Laura Aguilar, the late photographer who turned her powerful, poignant lens on Latinx, working-class, and queer communities, maintained an indelible relationship to her home city of Los Angeles. Never was this clearer than in “Show and Tell,” the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s poignant work, which debuted to rave reviews during the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA in 2017.
Now, a year after Aguilar’s death at 59 due to complications from diabetes, the J. Paul Getty Museum has ensured a group of the artist’s photographs will stay in Southern California for good. Yesterday, the museum announced that it acquired 35 photographs by Aguilar. They span five series and 30 years of the influential Chicana artist’s career.
“Laura Aguilar left us far too soon, but her powerful work remains as a testament to her vision and talent,” Timothy Potts, the Getty Museum’s director, said in a statement. “It is important and appropriate that these photographs will stay in Los Angeles, to which her practice had such a strong connection.”
Among the works acquired by the Getty are prints from Aguilar’s Latina Lesbian series (1986–90) of black-and-white portraits of gay women, each of which features a handwritten note from the sitter. Also represented are several prints from Plush Pony (1992), a body of work that found the artist setting up her camera in a local lesbian bar to photograph the working-class patrons. Both bodies of work are emblematic of Aguilar’s skill in allowing people who are often marginalized or flattened to present themselves on their own terms.
She also often put her own body in the frame. For Nature Self-Portrait (1996), Aguilar photographed herself taking the form of a rock in the baron desert. In her most recognizable work, the triptych Three Eagles Flying (1990), Aguilar depicted herself wrapped in both the American and Mexican flags, unable to see and caught between the two—a visual depiction of the dual identities she held as a Chicana woman.
“The work of Laura Aguilar is incredibly important and helps us better understand the role photography has played in the diverse communities of Southern California,” Jim Ganz, a senior curator in the Getty’s photo department, said.
A selection of Aguilar’s newly acquired works will be included in the Getty’s upcoming exhibition, “Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs,” which opens in December. Meanwhile, “Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell,” the retrospective that was first included in Pacific Standard Time, just finished a stint the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago and will travel to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York next year.
See more of Aguilar’s newly acquired work below.
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