Dr. Emily Bills Curates Exhibition at the Pacific Asia Museum 

Langdon & Wilson, CNA building, Los Angeles, 1972, photo Wayne Thom

Dr. Emily Bills’ photography exhibition After Modernism: Through the Lens of Wayne Thom opens this month at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. The exhibition — the first of its kind at the museum — is the culmination of five years of research on Thom’s work, which was also featured in Bills’ book Wayne Thom: Photographing the Late Modern (Monacelli, 2020).

One of the leading architectural photographers of our time, Wayne Thom photographed more than 2,600 projects across the Western United States, Hawaii, Bali, Fiji, and Singapore. Over the course of his 50-year career, which stretched from 1968–2015, Thom was especially prolific in Southern California, where he based his practice, and where he became the preferred photographer for the region’s leading firms.

The photographs in this exhibition are sourced from the Wayne Thom Photography Archive at the University of Southern California Libraries. In addition to the more than 75 freshly minted prints and archival materials illustrating the gravitas of Thom’s work on display, USC PAM and USC Libraries collaborated to develop a fully interactive archive station featured in this exhibition. This station allows visitors to visually peruse the archive and learn more about 50 iconic projects that illuminate Thom’s long and storied career. Two videos developed for the exhibition give visitors an opportunity to hear Thom recount his effort to enter the Southern California market at a time when prominent photographers Julius Shulman and Marvin Rand dominated the scene. He also details his approach to photographing Late Modern buildings whose inventive forms and materials required a fresh eye, as evidenced in his strategy to capture the CNA building in downtown Los Angeles, the first all-over mirror glass skin building constructed in the world.

The exhibition runs from October 14, 2022–January 22, 2023.

Dr. Bills will also lead a gallery tour on Saturday, November 5, at 1pm, and moderate a conversation with the artists on Thursday, December 1, at 6:30 pm. Visit the PAM calendar to register.

Last Updated on October 7, 2022. 

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