Darryl Curran is known for his pioneering and career-long championing of conceptualism in photography, across subject matter from portraits to natural and industrial landscapes. Along the continuum of black and white, color, and instant film, to analog, digital, unconventional and camera-less technology, one major idea that drives Curran’s practice is an intense appreciation for the time-based process of making photographs. From rephotographing older works in new contexts to enacting performative image-making inside gallery exhibitions, for five decades Curran has “sought to expand the definition of photography,” and a new exhibition at dnj Gallery follows the artist along a great many of his diverging and reconvening paths.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
DARRYL CURRAN: I began as the class artist in high school. After I was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1956 I used the G.I Bill to go to college and study art.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work examines the gap between the 19th and the 21st centuries. I follow the path of photographic mystery and discovery influenced by 19th-century practices and the magic of digital technology.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
If I had the talent I would play a tenor saxophone.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I attended Ventura College for two years and transferred to UCLA for B.A. and M.A. degrees. Why? I wanted to learn to be an artist.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I went to UCLA, worked in the art gallery for a year, went to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and returned to Westwood. I married Doris Coke who worked at UCLA and we bought a house nearby. I got a teaching position at Cal State Fullerton. So I stayed in SoCal. There is so much talent in L.A. It is an exciting place, especially now. There are new galleries, museums, restaurants, pop-up venues of all sorts, good weather and an open minded populace.
When was your first show?
I think that it was a four-person show of recent UCLA grads put together by Pat O’Neill and me at the old Santa Monica Library.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
The most recent is the current one at dnj Gallery in Santa Monica. Exhibited are works from 1965 through today, and new work continues every day at the gallery until the shows closes on February 29. I create photograms in the back gallery, on the pedestal, with the sky light as the light source.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Who would I like to show with? I would be embarrassed, but here goes, Giotto, Robert Rauschenberg, Kara Walker and Sheila Hicks.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Yes, I listen to music, but I’m stuck in the past. I love Thelonious Monk, be-bop, Horace Silver, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Elmore James, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington, J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, John Legend and Mariza.
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