“Construction Detail, East Wall, Xerox, 1821 Dyer Road, Santa Ana,” 1974 from “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

Photographer Lewis Baltz, whose seminal 1984 works “The New Industrial Parks,” “Nevada,” “San Quentin Point” and “Candlestick Point” would redefine American landscape photography, passed away at his home in Paris, France, on Saturday, November 22, 2014. He was 69 years old.

Baltz was one of the most significant figures of the New Topographics movement that developed in the late 1960s, early 1970s. Together, the photographers from this movement would expand the definition of landscape photography through their famed exhibition, “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape,” presented in Rochester, N.Y., in 1975. Their imagery presented American landscapes in minimal, stripped-down realities, void of notions found in previous landscape imagery that showed buildings or landscapes as symbols of prosperity or beauty.

Baltz grew up in Southern California’s Newport Beach in 1945, and the area’s suburban terrain often took center stage in his photography. He explored what he felt was an encroachment of urban life on suburban landscapes via concrete walls, construction sites and technology, telling American Suburb X in a 1993 interview: “The suburbs – the edges of the city, the places where city becomes not-city – are the places that are mutating, the places where the future hangs in question.”

A longtime proponent of presenting the realities of life and our relation to and impact on the spaces we inhabit, Baltz’s imagery often sought to comment on the impact of man-altered landscapes. His eye was more critical of urban sprawl and its reach, and he was known for his sharp and minimal black and white compositions, presented in grid format.

Lewis Baltz is survived by his wife Slavica Perkovic and his daughter Monica Baltz.


“Morgan Hill,” 1968 from “The Prototype Works.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“San Francisco,” 1972 from “The Prototype Works.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Gilroy,” 1967 from “The Prototype Works.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Mountain View,” 1972 from “The Prototype Works.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Dana Point no. 2,” 1970 from “The Prototype Works.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“South Wall, Mazda Motors, 2121 East Main Street, Irvine,” 1974 from “The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Southwest Wall, Vollrath, 2424 McGaw, Irvine,” 1974 from “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“North Wall, Automated Marine International, 1641 McGaw, Irvine,” 1974 from “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Jamboree Read, between Beckman and Richter Avenues, looking Northwest,” 1974 from “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California. “Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Construction Detail, East Wall, Xerox, 1821 Dyer Road, Santa Ana,” 1974 from “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)

“Tract House no. 17,” 1971 from “The Tract Houses.” Gelatin silver print. (Lewis Baltz/Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne)