The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles has acquired the photographer Allan Sekula’s papers. Taking up some 400 boxes, they include correspondence, records, photographs, research materials, archival notes, and more.
A few decades before globalization was at the forefront of many artists’ minds, Sekula, who died in 2013, was making work about how people, objects, and information travel around the world. Typically taking the form of conceptually dense slideshows and installations, his photography mapped the connections between unlike locales and ideas.
Sekula was a meticulous researcher. Last year, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, acquired his 15,000-volume personal library, and the papers that the Getty has acquired shed further light on the process that went into Sekula’s work. As the Getty points out on its blog, his notebooks are a source of valuable background information about his art. Following the shooting of Rodney King, in 1992, for example, Sekula jotted down a note that read, “Developers and the police are behind this. Check arson sites against zoning.”
The papers include 143 notebooks and 1,470 pages of illustrations. They contain notes on 156,000 exposures, as well as 2,200 non-editioned prints, cassette tapes and DVDs related to his installations, and letters to critics Benjamin H. D. Buchloh and Susan Sontag and artist Fred Lonidier.