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On Exhibit: Street Smart

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By Susan Freudenheim

Published Oct 1, 2010 8:00 AM


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Detail of Yust's Cuvrystrasse #1, Berlin (2009). Photos courtesy of the Fowler Museum.

Check out this neat video of the above mural, by Blu, being painted.

Murals on buildings, decorative signage or even graffiti are all grist for the urban artwork of Larry Yust, a photographer who takes time to note what might at first seem mundane.

An accomplished filmmaker born in 1930 in Pennsylvania and raised in a world of intellectuals and artists, Yust has figured out how to use a digital still camera to capture in great detail what the rest of us are missing.

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Detail. Yust's camera captures Spree River 31 in Berlin (2009).

Using dozens — occasionally hundreds — of shots of a single street scene, taken inch-by-inch to capture every detail, he assembles and edits his pictures into panoramic, seamless and colorful urban landscapes. Yust's works show us the familiar, but aestheticize the experience of it, making us see beauty where he does. His eye is drawn particularly to elaborate wall murals and multi-hued graffiti "art" that may be commissioned — or done by stealth — but that brightens the built environment.

These and more of Yust's unique visions are on view in Street Art: Photographic Elevations of Los Angeles, Paris and Berlin by Larry Yust at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. It is the artist's second solo exhibition at the Fowler.

Known for scouting his own scenes, Yust's pictures are anywhere from eight to 20 feet long, and 16 inches high — large enough to allow the viewer to stand back and see full blocks of a single street or move close and become immersed in details such as a figure walking by or the reflection of light on a river in Berlin.

"What he wants to do is capture a scene for his own enjoyment," says Patrick Polk M.A. '90, Ph.D. '00, curator of the exhibition and author of its catalog. "He captures it in a way that's difficult to do, but his hope is to give others an opportunity to look, to examine the details."

Whether in Berlin, Paris or Los Angeles, Yust exults in the playful — the enormity of an odd pink monster painted on a building in Berlin, or an odd sequence of animals and clown figures on a wall on Van Ness Avenue in L.A., or the vibrant hubbub of activity on Hollywood Boulevard. He turns what he sees into finished art that really does fit into a museum's spaces; unfettered by street noise, traffic, or changing light or weather, there's enormous charm in Yust's images of the incidental, preserved for all time.

Street Art: Photographic Elevations of Los Angeles, Paris and Berlin by Larry Yust. Through Jan. 16, 2011. Fowler Museum. For more information, visit www.fowler.ucla.edu or call (310) 825-4361.

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Detail of Yust's work from around the globe (top to bottom): Van Ness Avenue, Los Angeles (2009), Crenshaw Boulevard #3, Los Angeles (2008), Place D'Aligre #1, Paris (2007), Quai de Orfèvres, Paris (2009).

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