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Katy Grannan's photography exploring the street and its characters

by Greg Stefano in Culture on 19 January 2011

Berkeley, CA-based photographer Katy Grannan has made a name for herself with her strikingly beautiful portraiture. Drawing on classical and contemporary styles, her photos are touching and intimate, presenting raw images of people, subjects who are complex yet relatable.


In her most recent show, "Boulevard", Grannan spent the last three years roaming the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco. All of her portraits depict strangers but her knack for composition and sharp eye depict the subjects as at once hyper human to the extent of looking surreal and intimately familiar. The cast of characters she unearths take the viewer on a trip through time, style and culture, ultimately delivering an eerie, unexpected look at people most of us would just pass by.

Photographing her subjects in front of nondescript white stucco walls removes any specific sense of place from her pieces. This freedom from geography makes Grannan's photos universal and draws the focus directly to the subject; the street could be in any city but the characters are outstanding.


Grannan received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by her MFA from Yale. Her photographs have been exhibited in institutions ranging from the Whitney to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Boulevard" runs through 14 February 2011 at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.


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