Published by Damiani. Edited with text by Claudia Zanfi. Text by Sasha Frere-Jones, Bill Owens.
The turbulent, iconic festival captured in previously unpublished images
Bill Owens: Altamont 1969 presents a new and previously unpublished series of photographs of the Rolling Stones’ infamous concert at the Altamont Speedway in California.
The Altamont Speedway Free Festival has become an emblem of the upheavals and aftershocks of a decade of change. At Altamont, Owens captured a generation’s desire to stand up and raise its voices against the war in Vietnam, against segregation and racial discrimination, against authority in general.
The lineup at Altamont featured the Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Carlos Santana and many others; Owens was hired by the Associated Press to cover what promised to be a huge rock concert. But when Owens arrived at the Altamont Speedway with “two Nikons, three lenses, thirteen rolls of film, a sandwich and a jar of water,” he witnessed one of the defining moments of the late ‘60s. At Altamont the utopian hopes and innocent conviviality of the 1960s gave way to tension and a deadly violence; as the Stones continued to play and much of the crowd remained oblivious, an 18-year-old African American boy named Meredith Hunter was killed by the Hells Angels hired as concert security. This book captures the festival’s agitational energy that manifested itself in slogans and billboards, sit-ins and demonstrations and concerts that were treated as collective rites.
Bill Owens (born 1938) made his name in 1973 with the publication of Suburbia, one of several monographic studies he undertook into the customs of middle-class America. Whether documenting the American suburbs or the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, Owens has always approached photography with a perspective grounded in the observational methods of the social sciences; he imagines himself as a “visual anthropologist.”
Published by Damiani. Fiction by A.M. Homes. Text by Bill Owens, Claudia Zanfi.
A black-and-white photograph captures a woman, curlers in her hair and a baby in her arms, standing in a messy kitchen and saying, “How can I worry about the damned dishes when there are children dying in Vietnam?” California photographer Bill Owens is best known for his critically acclaimed series Suburbia, which was published as a monograph in 1972, and has long been considered one of the classic photo books of the era. For this influential and evocative project, Owens simply shot friends and acquaintances in his Livermore, California, neighborhood and allowed them to speak for themselves. Ordinary people had rarely been so riveting. A comprehensive monograph, this volume consists of several sections of work from 1969 to the present, opening at the height of flower power, with images of the Beat generation, Woodstock and the protests against Vietnam. Owens has always remained intrigued by America as a subject: there follows a series of images focusing on urban America, its endless grids and homogeneous cities. In his most recent photos, many of which are in color and previously unpublished, Owens reveals how suburbia has evolved in the last 40 years--from the friendly place he captured in the 1970s to one characterized by sprawl and anonymity.