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The Huntington

Larry Sultan "Woman in Curlers"

Larry Sultan "Woman in Curlers"

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From: The Huntington
Limited Edition: 15
Exhibition: This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in L.A. Photographs
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88cm x 243cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


The photography of Larry Sultan is evocative not of a world we do not know, but of a world that is all too real. His works take staid conventions of American life and turn them on their head with odd lighting, discomfiting juxtapositions, and awkward staging. For his series The Valley, Sultan took as his subject the nondescript suburban tract homes of the San Fernando Valley. But this was merely his backdrop, what he captured were the houses in use as movie sets for the adult film industry. 15 banners show his 2002 photo Woman in Curlers which comes from this provocative series.


The Huntington’s exhibition, This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in L.A. Photographs explored the relationship between Los Angeles and the photography in southern California from the 1860s to the present. It looked at the city through the lens of both the landscapes of the city and the landscapes of the human body. The interplay of person and place creates a strong dual tension and visual interplay that runs through much of the photography that came out of the area.

Larry Sultan is a master of capturing and distilling dichotomies. His photography has the rare ability to elicit a response in the viewer whether his subject is his parents at home or a porn star in curlers taking a break between filming. The latter is the subject seen on this banner from The Huntington. The 2002 photo comes from Sultan’s series The Valley, which featured photographs taken in suburban homes in the San Fernando valley that had been rented out by their owners as sets for adult films. Sultan’s photographs combine the quest for the American Dream with the realities of daily suburban life, and seem to show that these homes are sets for fantasies of both the familial kind and a more prurient kind. Perfectly lighted and composed, the face of the woman in curlers is one of beauty, artifice, and quiet defiance.

The text on these banners was designed to span a pair of banners mounted on a city streetlamp post. The front features Sultan’s photograph and pink text that reads “This Side of/06|14/09|15/2008/The Huntington”. At the bottom of the banner is the sponsor’s name and logo “Bank of America”. The other side of the banner features a close-up of the photograph showing the woman’s lips. White text reads “Paradise/Body and Landscape in L.A. Photographs” with the exhibition sponsor’s name and logo at the bottom.


These banners were displayed around Los Angeles from June 14, 2008 – Sept. 15, 2008 to promote the Huntington's exhibition This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in L.A. Photographs.

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