Bill Owens

Bill Owens | Riots & New Suburbia

28 February 2009 till 4 April 2009

America fast forward
No photo album is more symbolic of ‘the American way of life’ than Suburbia by Bill Owens (1938 San Jose, California) published in 1973. It is a visual report of the social revolution that took place after World War II, when middle class America started moving in huge numbers from the busy city centres to the suburbs. Suburbia is the work of an insider, for Bill Owens himself moved to one of these prefab suburbs in the early seventies, a young newly wed pioneer.

He noticed the changes around him and realized how drastically different this ‘fast forward’ consumption society would be. He captured his new world in primarily black and white ‘photo essays’ with laughing, hard working Americans that were enjoying there leisure time. Clean houses, neat gardens, kitchens equipped with the latest gadgets.  The car well polished in front of the house. The sun always seems to shine. Although focused on themselves and individualists, these happy Americans show ‘community sense’ as well: empty bottles are neatly brought to the recycle bin. Suburbia, followed by the series of Working and Leisure in 1977, shows what is going on behind the American dream. An optimistic period for a generation of mainly white Americans enjoying the prosperity their parents never knew.

Bill Owens recorded life outside this ‘paradise on earth’ in other reports that have become just as famous in the mean time. The rise of the campus protest movements – against the war in Vietnam, against segregation, against authority in general – Bill Owens captured in Riots 1967 – 1968. And Altamont (1968) shows how this generation of protesters enjoyed themselves. Altamont – the Woodstock of the West Coast – tells us of the infamous pop festival with one person dead and several injured during a Rolling Stones performance protected by Hells Angels. We may count ourselves lucky this series survived, for Bill Owens was seriously threatened by a Hells Angel who suspected Owens had recorded the riots. He managed to escape.

During 2006/2007 Bill Owens photographically re-explored Suburbia. The inhabitants have grown old or died, the trees are bigger now. And a new generation of Americans has settled in that tries to realize its own version of the American Dream. In full colour now.

Bill Owens’ photographs are part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art Stockholm, MOMA New York, MOMA San Francisco, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris, and many others. His works have been shown in exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, The Getty Museum Los Angeles, at the International Centre for Photography, recently at the Whitney Museum of American Art as part of the exhibition “Inside Out”, as well as in “Mapping The City” in 2007, at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, an exhibition which focuses on the artists’ view on the city between 1960 and 2007.

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Past shows (selection)

Miles Aldridge | Miles Aldridge | ART HISTORY

07-04-2018 till 22-05-2018

Keith Coventry | Keith Coventry | Junk & Pure Junk

24-02-2018 till 04-04-2018

New Beginnings

03-01-2018 till 17-02-2018

Roger Ballen | Roger Ballen – Ballenesque – a Retrospective

23-11-2017 till 30-12-2017

Unseen Photo Fair 2017

22-09-2017 till 24-09-2017

Chen Nong | Chen Nong | Silk Road

16-09-2017 till 11-11-2017

Joel Morrison | Joel Morrison | New Works

06-05-2017 till 15-08-2017

Iris Schomaker | IRIS SCHOMAKER | Come To The Edge

25-2-2017 till 26-4-2017

Unseen Photo Fair 2016

23-09-2016 till 25-09-2016

Marcus Harvey | Marcus Harvey | SHIPBUILDING | New Works

25-11-2016 till 07-01-2017

Sculpture Project Gelderlandplein | Permanently On View

Donald Baechler | Donald Baechler | New Works

16-09-2016 till 15-11-2016

Photo London 2016 Somerset House, Booth no. X2

18-05-2016 till 22-05-2016

Irina Ionesco | Irina Ionesco | Ma réalité rêvée

19-03-2016 till 10-05-2016

Unseen Photo Fair 2015

18-09-2015 till 20-09-2015

Andrew Moore | Andrew Moore | New Works from Dirt Meridian and Cuba

28-11-2015 till 20-2-2016

Todd Hido | Todd Hido|Selections From A Survey: ‘Khrystyna’s World’

12-09-2015 till 21-11-2015

Araki | Nobuyoshi Araki | Alluring Hell

06-06-2015 till 15-08-2015

Araki | Araki | August and Megumi Kagurazaka

20 December 2014 till 28 February 2015

Barry Reigate | One Cannot Get Fingerprints From A Rock

4 October 2014 till 6 December 2014

Unseen Photofair 2014

18-09-2014 till 21-09-2014

Beauty of Darkness II

21 June 2014 till 04 August 2014

Miles Aldridge | One Black & White and Twenty Four Colour Photographs

8 March till 10 May 2014

Robert Yarber | Robert Yarber | Panic Pending

06-12-2013 till 25-01-2014

Artissima 2013

08-11-2013 till 10-11-2013

Harland Miller | Harland Miller | Wherever You Are Whatever You’re Doing This One’s For You

20-09-2013 till 24-11-2013

Unseen 2013

26-09-2013 till 29-09-2013

Something Like Summer

17-07-2013 till 13-09-2013

John Copeland | All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

25-05-2013 till 16-07-2013

Hisaji Hara | Hisaji Hara | A Photographic Portrayal of the Paintings of Balthus

23-03-2013 till 11-05-2013

Arco 2013

13-02-2013 till 17-02-2013

Chen Nong | Chen Nong | Climbing To Moon

29-09-2012 till 31-12-2012

Pulse Miami Contemporary Art Fair

06-12-2012 till 09-12-2012

Daido Moriyama | Daido Moriyama | Journey For Something

19-05-2012 till 28-07-2012

Marcus Harvey | Marcus Harvey | Glass Paintings

07-04-2012 till 16-05-2012

Arco Madrid 2012

15-02-2012 till 19-02-2012

Roger Ballen | Roger Ballen | Animal Abstraction

12-11-2011 till 10-12-2011

Harland Miller | Harland Miller | Rocky 6

09-07-2011 till 13-09-2011

Moby | ‘Destroyed’ – Booksigning and Exhibition

31-05-2011 till 16-06-2011

Araki | Nobuyoshi Araki | It Was Once a Paradise

01-06-2011 till 16-07-2011

| John Copeland | Times of Grace

27-11-2010 till 15-02-2011

Andrew Moore | Andrew Moore | Making History

10-04-2010 till 07-06-2010

Harland Miller | Harland Miller | I’ll Never Forget What I Can’t Remember

18-09-2010 till 09-11-2010

| Kristen as seen by Miles Aldridge and Chantal Joffe

14-03-2010 till 07-06-2010

Alla Esipovich | No Comment

15-01-2010 till 13-03-2010

Contemporary and Vintage Photography

26-09-2009 till 28-11-2009

David Lachapelle | David LaChapelle | The Rape of Africa

06-06-2009 till 31-07-2009

Miles Aldridge | Miles Aldridge | Acid Candy

03-05-2008 till 05-07-2008