Sea Palms, 1968
Wynn Bullock (1902-1975) was born in Chicago and raised in South Pasadena, California. His boyhood passions were athletics and singing. The latter became his first career, and it was not until he was giving concerts in Europe in the mid-1920s that he became intrigued with the visual arts. He bought himself a simple box camera and began taking pictures. Photography remained a hobby, however, until 1938 when he enrolled in the Los Angeles Art Center School. There he concentrated his efforts in experimental imagery. Three years later, his work was showcased in one of the early solo photography exhibitions at the L.A. County Museum of Art.
Shortly after World War II, Wynn moved his family to the Monterey Peninsula where he had obtained the photographic concession at Fort Ord. Although Wynn earned a good living as a commercial photographer, it was in his personal work that he found his greatest fulfillment.
A major turning point in Wynn's life as a creative photographer occurred in 1948 when he met Edward Weston and began to explore "straight" photography for himself. Throughout the decade of the 50s, Wynn devoted himself to developing his own vision, establishing deep, direct connections with nature in and around the Central Coast of California. A lifelong learner, he also read widely in the areas of physics, General Semantics, philosophy, psychology, eastern religion, and art. Studying the work of such people as Albert Einstein, Lao Tzu, and Paul Klee, he kept evolving his own dynamic system of principles and concepts that both reflected and nurtured his creative journey. In the mid-1950s, two of his photographs were included in the famous Family of Man exhibition and his reputation as a master photographer spread worldwide.
During the early sixties, Wynn departed from black and white imagery and produced a body of work he referred to as "color light abstractions." For him, these photographs represented an in-depth exploration of light, manifesting his belief that light is a great force at the heart of all being, "perhaps," as he said, "the most profound truth in the universe."
By the mid-60s, Wynn was ready to explore the mysteries of light and life from new perspectives. Finding the means to more fully evoke the essence of things was a key part of his quest. Although he used long time exposures and multiple images as well as upside-down and negative printing in his repertoire of techniques, each was always used in the service of symbolizing new ways of relating to and knowing the world.
In the early 70s, Wynn embarked on a new leg of his photographic journey, one that was cut short by incurable cancer. Many of his photographs from that period reveal light emanating from within the heart of things, life glowing and pulsing with energy and vitality. Other photographs are of natural forms that depict or suggest universal human qualities, humanity "deeply embedded in" and re-united with nature.
As a master photographer, Wynn was one of five artists whose archives established the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography. His work may also be found in the permanent collections of over 90 major institutions throughout the world as well as in numerous publications.