LACMA photography curator Britt Salvesen's new exhibition, "The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White," offers a simple but salient comment not only on the state of fine-art portrait photography today but also on the insatiable public appetite for what it consumes as reality. Both Katy Grannan's candid, sun-baked snaps of intriguing strangers and Charlie White's deadpan "casting call" pictures speak to different aspects of whatever might still be called truth in today's manipulated visual culture. On Grannan's light-blasted stucco backdrops, a documentarian reportage sensibility rubs up against the humor and heartbreaking eccentricities of her subjects. White's similarly plain and consistent backdrops, by contrast, telegraph some kind of systemic organization; this claustrophobia is reinforced by the homogeneity of his models. Neither group seems emotionally engaged in having its picture taken. Where Grannan is looking for the diversity of human surrealism that occupies regular city streets, White is commenting on the cookie-cutter nature of idealized versions of American youth and the sort of discomfort he feels with that kind of mass-marketed wholesomeness. With nearly 75 images between them and a video work by each as well, this choreographed encounter between schadenfreude and marketing fantasy promises a good look at ourselves. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; exhibit runs July 22-Oct. 14; Mon-Tues. & Thur, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Wed.; lacma.org.
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: July 22. Continues through Oct. 14, 2012