MICHAEL JANG, Beauty Contest, 1973/2008; 16 x 20 in., digital c-print. Edition of 20.
Michael Jang’s is a unique story. For the last forty years, he has earned a living as a portrait photographer, capturing iconic figures such as Jimi Hendrix, Ronald Reagan, and Robin Williams, among others. However, this unassuming Asian-American photographer has also been simultaneously infiltrating and documenting a number of groups and subcultures from all strata of society: from celebrity parties in Beverly Hills to the youth of Castro’s Cuba, from South City gangs to Old West rodeos, and from the punk rock scene of the late 70s to the teenage garage bands of early 2000s San Francisco. His images are allegories of particular points in time, characterized by their candid honesty, decisiveness, and vivacity. SFMoMA has recently acquired a number of his early prints and has exhibited them alongside contemporaries such as Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, and Lee Friedlander.