John Gutmann


John Gutmann, The Artist Lives Dangerously, San Francisco, 1938



John Gutmann, Omen, 1934



John Gutmann, Bare Backs, San Francisco, 1939




John Gutmann, Indian High School Band, Arizona, 1937



John Gutmann, By the Railroad Track, 1939



John Gutmann, Lunch Hour, San Francisco, 1934



John Gutmann, Self Portrait, Looking at North Beach and Bay, San Francisco, 1934


Born in Germany in 1905, Gutmann fled the Nazis to arrive in San Francisco in 1933. He loved California because “The sun always shines and no one disapproves of my nose.” He went on to become a prolific photographer and influential teacher. Following his own instincts, shaped more by his formative years in Berlin during the Weimar Republic than the dominant photographic esthetics of the WPA or f64, he was as interested in American vernacular as he was in European formalism, making his photographs a distinctive vision in the history of 20th century photography. He was awarded many honors and grants, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1977 and was the subject of many one-person exhibitions at major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1984, Abrams published his book, The Restless Decade: John Gutmann’s Photographs of the Thirties. He remained an active presence in San Francisco’s art / photography scene until his death in 1998.