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Born: 1933, McPherson, Kansas
Died: 2008, San Francisco, California
Whether responding to atom bombs or surfing, the Kennedy assassination, Western movies, Christian iconography, outer space, Marilyn Monroe, or television advertising, Bruce Conner has always refused a characteristic style. His work often expresses his strong aversion to commercialism, celebrity, and easy assimilation as well as reflecting narratives such as the explosion of mass-media culture following World War II and the paranoia of the cold war. He produced the Angel series of photograms by standing in front of large sheets of light-sensitive paper that were then exposed to the beam of a slide projector. Captured without a camera, the apparitions that resulted from the quasi-mystical capture of pure light energy recall the phantasmic "spirit photographs" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in their apparent supernatural mediation of an invisible presence. As the visual memory of an elusive artist who has continually disrupted attempts by art history to pin him down--and who for many years refused to be photographed--the Angels are an affirmation of the ineffable, the ungraspable, and the extraordinary.