Allan Sekula

For those of us coming of age as photographers in the 1980s, Allan Sekula was a beacon of light. Brilliantly compassionate, Sekula eloquently spoke truth to power well before many of us were aware of what we were up against. In this he was an artist, scholar, and teacher in the most noble sense of these terms, whether this meant reading photography against the grain, analyzing the invisible adaptability of capital, or noting that school can be a factory. He changed my view of the world and his passing is a great loss to all of us. – David Trend

Brian Boucher’s thoughtful obituary appearing in Art in America follows: “Artist and critic Allan Sekula, known for his politically pointed photographic projects, died Aug. 10 in Los Angeles from gastric-esophageal cancer. He was 62, and he taught at the California Institute of the Arts for nearly three decades.

“As a writer, Allan described with great clarity and passion what photography can, and must do: document the facts of social relations while opening a more metaphoric space to allow viewers the idea that things could be different,” said school of art dean Thomas Lawson in a statement. “And as a photographer he set out to do just that. He laid bare the ugliness of exploitation, but showed us the beauty of the ordinary; of ordinary, working people in ordinary, unremarkable places doing ordinary, everyday things.”

“Born Jan. 15, 1951 in Erie, Penn., Sekula grew up in San Pedro, Calif., and earned a bachelor’s degree in art at UC San Diego. He earned an MFA in 1974 at the same school. After teaching briefly at New York University, he was on the faculty at Ohio State University’s department of photography and cinema for five years before, in 1985, going to CalArts. Continue reading “Allan Sekula”