Bullock, Wynn

American (1902-1975)

Recognized for his images of nudes and landscapes on the West Coast, Wynn Bullock followed several paths before embarking on a career in photography. He began his professional life as a concert tenor; while touring in Paris in the 1920s, he was deeply affected by some of Man Ray’s photographs. This encounter, though, was not enough to steer him away from an initial foray into law school. He attended sporadically, until commencing photography studies in 1938 in Los Angeles. This time, the vocational path stuck, and Bullock founded his own commercial photography firm, Arrow Camera, in 1943. These paying gigs garnered Bullock income, but his artistic aspirations drew him toward a life-long friendship with Edward Weston, which began in 1948.  

Together, these men became interested in the use of symbolism and in taking close-up shots that abstracted everyday objects into images of great mystery. Bullock, in particular, was interested in juxtaposing human and natural elements in his photos, playing with contrasting textures and lights. His explorations led Bullock to the classroom, where his students found him a captivating teacher on the philosophy of images, a mystic sort of artist. As a testament to this artistry, Edward Steichen included Bullock in his 1955 “The Family of Man,” a vast exhibition of over 500 photos, depicting life, love and death.