A Behind-the-Scenes Look at 1970s California

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Eighteen years ago, in 2001, California-born photographer Michael Jang, then fifty  years old, submitted an unsolicited catalogue of photographs taken during the 1970s and ’80s to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for consideration. The museum had a policy which encouraged such submissions, though very rarely did anything ever come of it. In Jang’s case, it did. The work was good, very good. Curators Sandra S. Phillips and Douglas Nickel bit. The result, now, is an exhibition at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, SF, as well as a book titled Who Is Michael Jang?

And so, who is Michael Jang?

Jang first discovered photography while taking an elective course while studying to be a design major. He was inspired by the works of Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, and Diane Arbus, and went about capturing images on the street himself. He spent the better part of ten years photography, with a unique brand of humor, everything from family members to members of government, high rollers to rock ‘n’ rollers. For high-profile events, Jang would make fake press passes and don black tie attire to sneak in. His audacity resulted in a candid, up-close-and-personal view into worlds rarely seen.

Definitely try to catch the exhibition in San Francisco if you can. If you can’t, settle for this treasure of a book.

Michael-jang

Planet of the Apes beauty contest, Century City, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Michael-jang

Woman Arriving in Rolls Royce, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Michael-jang

Couple at the Lawrence Welk dance, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Michael-jang

Frank Sinatra, March of Dimes “Man of the Year”, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Self-portrait, Financial District, San Francisco, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Onlookers at the George Moscone funeral, 1978. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Ramones free concert, Civic Center Plaza, 1979. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Aunts and Uncles, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Holiday preparations, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Living room scene, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Lucy watering at night, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Study hall, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

Header image: David Bowie signing autographs, 1973. © Photographs by Michael Jang.

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