Wynn Bullock archive
Scope and Contents
The collection offers insight into Bullock's attitudes toward his own work. Notes and diaries, articles written by Bullock, and his correspondence reflect the development of his philosophical approach to photography. There is less evidence of his thoughts on photography in general, although some of the papers do document his attitudes toward the work of other photographers and the development of the medium. The Bullock collection consists of 223 prints and 90 linear feet of archival materials, including personal papers, diaries, correspondence, activity files, audio-visual and photographic materials. The archive offers significant information on the exhibition, publication, and sale of Bullock's photographs; his experiments with solarization; his involvement with the Friends of Photography; and his teaching activities. The collection offers insight into Bullock's attitudes toward his own work and the development of his philosophical approach to the medium.
The first series contains correspondence (1921-1980) between Bullock and other photographers, gallery and museum staff, editors, students, photographic sales agents, and others. Subjects covered include the sale, publication, and exhibition of photographs; aesthetic issues relating to photography; Bullock’s photographic experiments; teaching positions; and other topics. Extent: 6.5 linear feet.
The second series of activity files contains publications and writings, exhibition files, education files, membership organizations, business records, technical materials, personal and financial papers, and miscellaneous papers.
Under activity files, subseries one through six include publications and writings (1950-1976), which include manuscripts, tear sheets, correspondence, and similar material relating to publications by Bullock and those written about him by others. Also included are Bullock’s diaries and notes on photography, transcripts of interviews with Bullock, files concerning the publication of his photographs, and copies of publications in which his photographs appeared. Extent: 3 linear feet.
The seventh subseries contains catalogs, scripts, lists of photographs, notices, contracts, correspondence and other material relating to exhibitions of Bullock’s photographs. See also the notebooks of Bullock’s negative numbers (AG10:11/ 23-24), which include lists of prints Bullock sent to various exhibitions. Extent: 1 linear foot.
The eighth subseries, education (1939-1980), includes correspondence, lists of students, course descriptions and announcements, minutes of professional association meetings, and similar material relating to photographic courses and workshops taught by Bullock. Also included are three folders of material from the Art Center School in Los Angeles, which Bullock attended from 1939 to 1940. Extent: .5 linear feet.
The ninth subseries includes correspondence, minutes and meeting material, reports, exhibition and publication notices, and other material relating to Bullock’s involvement with the Friends of Photography (FOP) between 1967-1975. Bullock served as chairman of the FOP’s exhibitions committee. Extent: .5 linear feet.
The tenth subseries contains business records relating to Bullock’s photographic businesses (1951-1965). Materials include correspondence, invoices, balance sheets, lists of supplies, and other material. These commercial enterprises were ARTCO, Inc., Arrow Portrait Studio, Arrow Photo Finishers, and Santa Maria Photo Finishers. The records pertaining to these businesses are sketchy and incomplete. Extent: .25 linear feet.
The eleventh subseries contains technical materials (1936- circa 1975), such as legal papers, correspondence, articles, and other material relating to the two photographic processes patented by Bullock – “Photographic Process for Producing Line Images” (1948) and “Method for Matching Opposing Densities in Photographic Film” (1957). In these experiments, Bullock worked with processes that he hoped would take the place of hand drawn technical illustrations. Material relating to Bullock’s photographic equipment is also included. Extent: 1.25 linear feet.
The twelfth subseries contains miscellaneous papers (1921-1975) that includes correspondence, bibliographies of Bullock’s publications and exhibitions, press releases, model releases, newspaper clippings, and other material relating to a wide variety of activities. Extent: 1 linear foot.
The thirteenth subseries contains personal and financial papers (1921-1970s) related to correspondence, army, school, and medical records, personal financial material, newspaper clippings, and similar items. Two scrapbooks of clippings, correspondence, brochures, articles, and similar material relating to Bullock’s career as a concert singer and photographer. Extent: .25 linear feet.
The third series, other materials, include newspaper and magazine clippings, books and periodicals, audio tapes, film and video tapes, and posters. The newspaper and magazine clippings (circa 1920-1975) are related to events of Bullock’s career, including exhibitions, publications, lectures, and related activities. A few of the clippings are examples of Bullock’s commercial work. The clippings are from a wide variety of publications, primarily newspapers. The books and periodicals come from Bullock’s personal library collection. The works deal with photography, philosophy, art and related subjects. Some of the books are annotated or signed by Bullock, but none contain his photographs or writings.
The fourth series, photographic materials, contains photographic equipment, photographs, negatives, and transparencies of Bullock’s work. In 1975, after Wynn Bullock had designated the Center for Creative Photography for his archive, he selected 140 prints as representative of his artistic oeuvre. These prints form the Core Collection of the Wynn Bullock Archive. At the same time, Bullock designated 159 prints as rejected prints, largely on technical grounds. An additional 700 prints from Bullock’s non-commercial, non-student work form a separate study collection. Early work, student work, commercial photographs, patent experiments, and family snapshots form five additional sections of Wynn Bullock’s photographs.
There are approximately 15,000 negatives ranging in size from 35mm to 8x10 inches. The negatives are often accompanied by Bullock’s notations, which usually include his negative number, title, or date. A few of the negatives are accompanied by contact prints. Note: the notebooks in which Bullock listed his negative numbers are in his papers (box 11).
The collections also includes approximately 1750 color transparencies of light abstractions, nudes, commercial work, family and friends, Bullock’s black and white photographs, and other subjects. Also included are color stereo transparencies of a variety of subjects and a series of transparencies that illustrate Bullock’s method of making light abstractions. An extensive inventory exists for the photographic materials in the Wynn Bullock Archive. This may be viewed in the Study Center, or a copy requested from the archivist.
Language of Materials
Material in English
Conditions Governing Access
For permission to view the negatives, please consult the archivist. Requests will be considered on the basis of need and physical condition of the negatives. To access materials from this collection, please contact CCP-RefDesk@email.arizona.edu
Conditions Governing Access
The negatives in boxes 114 through 130 are currently inaccessible due to renovations in CCP's cold storage facility. Negatives will be accessible once the renovation is complete and the negative boxes have been transferred to the new frozen storage space. The estimated date of availability is mid-year of 2023, although not guaranteed. Please be sure to email CCP-RefDesk@email.arizona.edu with any questions or for updates.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright to Bullock's photographs and writings is held by Bullock Family Photography, L.L.C.
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.
The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement
Wynn Bullock (1902 – 1975) was born in Chicago and raised in South Pasadena, California. His early career was as a singer, and following high school he moved to New York where he performed in the chorus of Irving Berlin’s Music Box Revue and later with the show’s Road Company. During the mid-1920s, while performing in Europe, he became fascinated with artworks by Cezanne, Man Ray, and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. Bullock once wrote, “My first ambition was to become a concert singer….But interpreting others’ creative work did not satisfy my own creative impulses and so I turned to photography.” Bullock bought a simple box camera and launched into amateur picture making.
In 1938 Bullock enrolled at the Los Angeles Art Center School. Three years later, his work was showcased in one of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's early solo photography exhibitions. During the 1940s, he conducted pioneering research to control the effect of solarization (a darkroom process for altering an image) and was awarded patents in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain for a “Photographic Process for Producing Line Image.”
Bullock was deeply inspired by fellow photographer Edward Weston, who he met in 1948, and Weston’s work motivated him to investigate straight photography. Throughout the 1950s, Bullock clarified his unique point of view, establishing a deep, direct connection with nature. A lifelong learner, he also read widely in the areas of physics, general semantics, philosophy, psychology, Eastern religion, and art.
Bullock came into the public spotlight when Museum of Modern Art curator Edward Steichen chose two of his photographs for the 1955 Family of Man exhibition. When the exhibition was shown at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., his photograph Let There Be Light, was voted most popular. The second, Child in Forest, became one of the exhibition’s most memorable images. By the end of that decade, his work was widely exhibited and published worldwide and in 1957, he was honored with a medal from the Salon of International Photography.
During the early 1960s, Bullock departed from the black-and-white imagery for which he was known and produced a major body of work, Color Light Abstractions, which expressed his belief that light is a great force at the heart of all being. Further image-making innovation included alternative approaches including extended time exposures, photograms, and negative printing.
During the 1960s and 1970s Bullock expanded his influence through other roles. In 1968, he became a trustee and chairman of the exhibition committee during formative years at Friends of Photography in Carmel, California. He taught advanced photography courses at Chicago’s Institute of Design during Aaron Siskind’s sabbatical and at San Francisco State College at John Gutmann’s invitation. In the last decades of his life, he lectured widely, participated in many photographic seminars and symposia, and was a guest instructor for the Ansel Adams Yosemite Workshops. Bullock died at the age of 73 in November 1975.
Along with Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer, he was one of the founding photographers whose archives established the Center for Creative Photography in 1975.
138 Boxes (90 linear feet)
Metadata Rights Declarations
- License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.
Personal papers, correspondence, activity files, audio visual materials, and photographic materials, 1920 1980, relating to the career of Wynn Bullock (1902 1975), photographer, teacher, and inventor. The papers offer significant information on the exhibition, publication, and sale of Bullock's photographs; his experiments with solarization; his involvement with the Friends of Photography; and his teaching activities. Less well documented are his tenure as a commercial photographer, his brief career as a concert singer, and his own education at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, California.
The Collection is arranged into the following series:
- Series 1:Correspondence (1921-1980)
- Series 2: Activity Files (1921-1980)
- Subseries 1: Files Concerning Publications and Writings by Wynn Bullock
- Subseries 2: Files Relating to Publications of Bullock’s photographs
- Subseries 3: Transcripts of Interviews with Wynn Bullock
- Subseries 4: Files Concerning Writing about Wynn Bullock by Others
- Subseries 5: Publications in which Bullock’s writing or photographs appear
- Subseries 6: Oversize Materials
- Subseries 7: Exhibitions
- Subseries 8: Education
- Subseries 9: Friends of Photography
- Subseries 10: Business Records
- Subseries 11: Technical Materials, Patents
- Subseries 12: Miscellaneous Papers
- Subseries 13: Personal and Financial Papers
- Series 3: Other Materials
- Subseries 1: Newspaper and Magazine Clippings
- Subseries 2: Wynn Bullock’s Personal Library
- Subseries 3: Audio Tapes
- Subseries 4: Film and Video Tapes
- Subseries 5: Posters
- Series 4: Photographic Materials
- Subseries 1: Photographic Equipment
- Subseries 2: Photographs
- Subseries 3: Negatives
- Subseries 4: Transparencies
The Wynn Bullock Archive was purchased from the photographer in 1975.
Boxes 86-90 are photographic prints that have been transferred to the CCP Fine Print collection.
Processed by Charles Lamb and Cynthia Ludlow, 1982. Information was updated in October 2005. Materials were rehoused and further processing completed by Leah Rios, 2015. Finding aid was updated by Alexis Peregoy and CCP staff in 2016.
- Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Department of Film (Organization)
- Wynn Bullock Archive 1921-1980
- Finding aid updated by Alexis Peregoy
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid encoded in English .
- 11/14/2017: Finding aid updated