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Katy Grannan’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams [NSFW]

Berkeley-based photographer Katy Grannan is known for portraits that reveal intimacies about her subjects, even as they skirt conventions of portraiture. Her earlier work used models and other people known to her, at specific times and places, often in evocative poses borrowed from art history. But for the last few years, Grannan has taken her practice to the streets and replaced her complicit subjects with anonymous passersby. Her current show, Boulevard, at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery assembles an eclectic array of ordinary folks of outlandish appearance — interesting strangers, unaware of their role.

The midday sun and her backdrops of plain white stucco exteriors, tilt the images toward hyper-realism, meeting the extant surrealism of the subjects halfway. The project exists in a documentary mode despite the artist’s aesthetic and sociological agenda, because the rest is a straightforward presentation of bizarre reality authentically encountered. And they are as compelling as the earlier, more elaborate pictures, as if to say, who needs a costumer or make-up artist, when these are your neighbors just as they are.

Katy Grannan: Boulevard is on view at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco through February 19.

Click through below for a gallery of images.


Katy Grannan, Anonymous, Los Angeles, 2009, color photograph, Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery