The Streets of San Francisco: Photographing City Life


John Gutmann

John Gutmann: Self Portrait. San Francisco, 1934

John Gutmann  (1905 – 1998)

Born in Germany and trained as a painter, Gutmann fled the Nazis, arriving in San Francisco in 1933, supporting himself as a photojournalist. Three years later he began teaching art part-time at San Francisco State College. In 1946 he founded one of the first creative photography programs in the country—a program that influenced a generation of photographers.

A self-taught photographer, he turned his camera to life in Depression-era America, capturing odd and often surreal images seen from the viewpoint of an outsider. His work has been published in numerous national publications, including Life, Time, Look, and National Geographic. During his lifetime he participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions.

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Photographs courtesy of John Gutmann Photography Fellowship Trust, a fund of The San Francisco Foundation 

© 1998 The Center of Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents, The University of Arizona