Allan Sekula was an American photographer, writer, critic and filmmaker. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1951, he lived most of his life in Los Angeles and the surrounding regions of southern California, earning BA and MFA degrees in Visual Arts from University of California, San Diego, and teaching at California Institute of the Arts for over three decades.
Already with his work made at UCSD in the early 1970s, both his writings and art aimed to bridge the gap between conceptual and documentary practices, focusing on economic and social themes ranging from family life, work and unemployment to schooling and the military industrial complex. While questioning many documentary conventions, Sekula continued to see photography as a social practice, answerable to the world and its problems.
In his lifetime he earned numerous awards: National Endowment for the Arts, US Artists Fellows Award, College Art Association, Camera Austria, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Since his death in 2013, Sekula’s library was transferred to the Clark Art Institute, his archive to the Getty Research institute, and his “Dockers’ Museum” collection of maritime artifacts to M HKA in Antwerp. His art works are in the collection of Museum of Modern Art, NY, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Art institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; MACBA /Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Tate London; TBA 21, Vienna; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, M HKA, Antwerp, among others.