Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Laguna Art Museum Spotlights The Lost Art Of PHOTOGRAPHY & SEDUCTION: WILLIAM MORTENSEN'S LAGUNA BEACH

One of the only museum exhibitions showcasing the work of prolific photographer and Laguna Beach resident William Mortensen.

Laguna Art Museum Spotlights The Lost Art Of PHOTOGRAPHY & SEDUCTION: WILLIAM MORTENSEN'S LAGUNA BEACH

Laguna Art Museum will present Photography & Seduction: William Mortensen's Laguna Beach on view October 1, 2022 through January 15, 2023. Honoring the Laguna Beach resident, the exhibition will be one of the only museum exhibitions of his work, illustrating his ascent as one of the most famous photographers of his time.

"We look forward to presenting one of the only museum exhibitions dedicated to the work of the revered and hated William Mortensen," said Julie Perlin Lee, Executive Director of Laguna Art Museum. "In addition to showcasing a variety of pieces throughout Mortensen's famed career, the exhibition will be accompanied by a film narrated by Vincent Price on the artist."

Photography & Seduction will take museum visitors on a journey through Mortensen's career from his star-studded Hollywood beginnings to his teachings, as well as influences, processes and more. Mortensen was the first American photographer to use the grotesque in a long-term series of artwork, using tools like pens, paints, pumice and razor blades to alter images. After making a name for himself in Hollywood, Mortensen was drawn to the city of Laguna Beach where he opened a photography school and was often called "The Master'' by his students for teachings known as "The Mortensen Method."

"What we want to accomplish is to recast Mortensen and his work," said guest curator Larry Lytle. "We will be showing the linkage between Mortensen's photographs with-his teaching; his books and articles; the photographic processes he invented, and the ones he appropriated, using them in a way that suited his needs: his philosophy about art and photography; his use of branded products to control how students approached using his processes; and the multitude of art influences such as paintings, movies, poetry and literature, along with his connections to personalities in a variety of fields that made an impact on him."

American photographer William Mortensen (1897-1965) is remembered as being in contention with the popularly accepted photographic techniques of his time. Rather than presenting a pure or unadulterated image, Mortensen altered his photographs by whatever means necessary to achieve his desired effect. Mortensen was at odds with Group f64 whose members included such influential American photographers as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston. It is said that Mortensen was written out of the history of photography by his peers. Ansel Adams notably labeled Mortensen as the "Anti-Christ." His most well-known works speak to themes relating to the grotesque; however, Mortensen focused on various subjects throughout his career.

William Mortensen established his home and the Mortensen School of Photography on October 2, 1931. The school was originally located at 1731 South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Mortensen moved the school to different locations throughout Laguna Beach until his death in 1965.

In addition to Photography & Seduction, the museum will present Her Great Gift: The Nancy Dustin Wall Moure Collection on display August 28, 2022 through February 12, 2023. The exhibition features 40 artworks from the 1830s through the 1970s from Wendt Award 2022 recipient Nancy Dustin Wall Moure's collection that traces how artists documented the California experience. Discover the earliest known oil painting made in Southern California, California plein air paintings, watercolors from the WPA period, mid-century abstractions, and explorations into Light and Space.

For more information about Photography & Seduction: William Mortensen's Laguna Beach and Her Great Gift: The Nancy Dustin Wall Moure Collection, visit lagunaartmuseum.org. To stay connected and learn about upcoming events, follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Regional Awards


More Hot Stories For You


Jacaranda to Present Concert Premiere of New Opera AKHIPOV About Soviet Nuclear Submarine B-59Jacaranda to Present Concert Premiere of New Opera AKHIPOV About Soviet Nuclear Submarine B-59
September 26, 2022

The acclaimed concert series Jacaranda continues its quest to inspire audiences with the long-awaited concert premiere of ARKHIPOV, an opera by composer Peter Knell and Stephanie Fleischmann, winner of Opera America’s 2022 Campbell Librettist Prize.

Heidi Duckler Dance Presents 37th Annual Celebration THE BODY OF THE PEOPLEHeidi Duckler Dance Presents 37th Annual Celebration THE BODY OF THE PEOPLE
September 26, 2022

Los Angeles-based dance company Heidi Duckler Dance (HDD) has announced its 37th Annual Celebration, The Body of the People, on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at 5pm at Founder's Church of Religious Science designed by the distinguished Los Angeles architect Paul R. Williams. 

 Loft Ensemble Presents World Premiere of MASS GRAVES In Sawyer's Playhouse This Week Loft Ensemble Presents World Premiere of MASS GRAVES In Sawyer's Playhouse This Week
September 26, 2022

Loft Ensemble in North Hollywood has announced this season's second production, the world premiere of Mass Graves by Cris Eli Blak — which will be presented in Sawyer's Playhouse (the company's second stage).

Toyota to Present HOLA MEXICO Film Festival in OctoberToyota to Present HOLA MEXICO Film Festival in October
September 25, 2022

The largest Mexican film festival outside of México, Hola México Film Festival presented by Toyota, returns for its 14th annual edition Sunday, October 2 through Monday, October 10, 2022, during Hispanic Heritage Month.

14th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival Presents FINLANDIA14th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival Presents FINLANDIA
September 23, 2022

14th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival will present a screening of FINLANDIA.