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Matinee: Anthony Hernandez Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

17 September 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 153rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Anthony Hernandez at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

On Sept. 24, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will exhibit the first retrospective in the more than 45-year career of American photographer Anthony Hernandez. Approximately 160 photographs, many of which have never before been seen or published, will be on view through Jan. 1, 2017 as the inaugural special exhibition in the museum's new Pritzker Center for Photography.

So we thought we'd introduce you to Hernandez before his retrospective opens with this 3:43 video produced in conjunction with Hernandez's recent exhibit Discarded at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. It begins, appropriately, with the artist standing in front of Discarded #50, the luminous image that SFMOMA picked to publicize its retrospective.

Discards are the stuff of Hernandez's vision. He sees in the empty room the promise of the new home.

"You drive and maybe make a turn off a different road and you find something," he says modestly, describing his method.

You see the world in a new light. You appreciate what you've neglected, what you've left behind, what you've forgotten.

Curator John Rohrbach talks about the significance of Hernandez's work and "that notion of leaving behind what at one point was valued." It's a long standing tradition that Hernandez plays off, he says.

Hernandez talks about his portrait of an old man living out of a bus and how, just a few moments later, he made an image of an empty shell of a house. When he thinks of one of those images, he remembers the other, too.

He's very good at pointing out to us what we tend to pass by or tend not to notice, Rohrbach says. They're difficult images to look at but captivating. You're drawn in. You notice the tiny touches. The play of light.

The discarded begins to be treasured again.

It's about a different kind of beauty, Rohrback says. You see the world in a new light. You appreciate what you've neglected, what you've left behind, what you've forgotten.

The child of Mexican immigrants, Hernandez was born and raised in Los Angeles, which influenced the development of his photographic style. Over the course of his career, Hernandez has moved from black-and-white to color photography, from 35mm to large-format cameras and from the human figure to landscape to abstracted detail.

SFMOMA has produced a 4:42 video titled Anthony Hernandez: Peeling away the layers of the Mojave Desert. And it's a special treat.

You accompany Hernandez as he drives out to a favorite site in the Mojave and talks about finding a photograph as he walked through the abandoned trailer park carrying his medium format Mamiya film camera.

There's nothing there. Then Hernandez snaps the shutter. And something has been created out of nothing.

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