Pixar at the Oakland Museum


Michele and I went to the Oakland Museum for our anniversary. What I like about the Oakland Museum is that the design – by Kevin Roche – is sixties superb and what I like even better is that it is about California art. Most museums – at least most US museums – aren't local or regional, they are aspiring to be national or international. So, when I go to a museum in a strange city, I don't see great local art, I see a second rate Jasper Johns or or third rate Amedeo Modigliani. 

But, at the Oakland Museum of California, I see first rate California art. The museum has recently been remodeled and it was pretty busy when we were there. Maybe because of the remod but probably because of an excellent show – put together by René de Guzman – on Pixar. 

For me, the Pixar show was especially interesting because I feel there is a similarity between Pixar's art and my photography. Not a similarity in quality so much as a similarity in style. Looking at the Pixar individual pictures, none seems like what I would call great stand alone art. It is story telling art. It is art because of it's context.

Standing alone, the Pixar pictures are fun but in a That would be great in a kids room. That would be great in the kitchen.  sort of way.  The pictures work best when they push the story.

When I look at photographs of a place that I have been or am going to and then look at my photographs of the same place; mine usually don't have that calendar punch. For a couple of reasons:  most published photographers shoot at the golden hour which makes anything look good – including traffic – and photographers tend to shoot the same shots and use the same tricks, over and over again because they work. Like Pixar, my photographs usually work best when they are pushing a story.


I like to think that I have lots of photographs that stand by themselves, but I have always been a better slide show photographer than a calendar photographer. I think that is why this blog works best when it is telling a story – especially about a trip.

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