Bill Owens
American, born 1938
Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Selected exhibitions
The House Imaginary,
San Jose Museum of Art
Words Matter,
Robert Koch Gallery
In Focus: Play,
J. Paul Getty Museum

Bill Owens has been chronicling middle-class American life in color and black-and-white photographs since the late 1960s. “Turn me loose on the middle class,” he once declared. “I understand the culture. I speak the language. Let me exploit them!” Owens focuses especially on suburbia, documenting how its residents construct their lives. Inspired by such master documentarians as Lewis Hine, Walker Evans, and Dorothea Lange, he approaches the rituals and pastimes of suburbia with an anthropologist’s eye, aiming to consistently communicate with his subjects directly and with sensitivity. Owens’s other well-known bodies of work include his photographs of people at work and at leisure. Youth culture has also held Owens in its sway, and he has captured its unbounded energy in his photographs of political demonstrations, riots, and rock festivals.

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