Bullock, (born April 18, 1902, Chicago,
Illinois, U.S.—died November 16, 1975, Monterey, California) was an
accomplished concert tenor as a young man. It was while studying music in Paris
in the late 1920 ￕs, that he became
interested in the visual arts, inspired by the works of MAN RAY and Laszlo
Moholy-Nagy. However, it was not until 1938 that he seriously began to study
photography. In 1940 he studied with Alfred Koryzbski, whose ideas and use of
symbolism greatly influenced him. From 1946-1967, Bullock worked as a
commercial photographer American photographer who conveyed a psychological
truth beneath the realism of his images.
moved to New York City in the early 1920s to study voice at Columbia University
and to pursue a career as a concert tenor. While traveling throughout Europe,
he was exposed to developments in the visual arts. Upon his return to the
United States in 1931, he briefly studied law; however, he decided that his
vocation lay in photography and instead enrolled at the Los Angeles Art Center
from 1938 to 1940. Bullock’s early work—mainly solarizations, in which the
image is partly negative and partly positive—was strongly influenced by the
avant-garde experiments of László Moholy-Nagy. His first one-man exhibition,
held in 1941 at the Los Angeles County Museum, was a critical success.
1948 Bullock met photographer Edward Weston, who persuaded him that realism and
tonal beauty were photography’s most valuable assets. Bullock changed his own
style and strictly followed Weston’s teachings. Much of his work from that
point on closely resembles Weston’s, especially in his choice of seascapes,
landscapes, and nudes as subject matter. Bullock was very focused on the
meaning behind such subject matter. He often intended his realistic images to
be viewed as “equivalents,” photographic images that serve as visual metaphors
for larger ideas, such as the passing of time and the inevitability of death.
Occasionally, he treated these themes surrealistically in prints such as Child
in the Forest (1954), one of two of Bullock’s photographs that were central
parts of “The Family of Man,” the landmark 1955 exhibition organized by Edward
Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
1957, Bullock was honored with a medal from the Salon of International
Photography and was recognized by the Professional Photographers Association of
California. Bullock eventually retired from commercial work to devote himself
to the philosophical meaning of images as well as the teaching of photography.
He continued teaching and photographing until his death in 1975.
work is included in the Family of Man exhibition, and in the following
collections: the Museum of Modern Art, George Eastman House, the Whitney
Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, ICP in New York, the Royal
Photographic Society of London and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.