Strange But True — The Arizona Photographs of Allen Dutton
Allen Dutton’s photographs have been collected by American, European, and Japanese museums and private collectors. He was first published in the 1950s and his unique work has long intrigued the serious collector. Dutton has produced four books of photographs. He is perhaps best known by the average Arizona resident for his book, Arizona Then and Now, published in 2000. It quickly became a best selling regional book which paired historic photographs of Arizona with contemporary images taken from the exact locations of the originals.
Since the 1970s, Allen Dutton has been using 8×10-inch and 11×14-inch cameras to systematically photograph the state of Arizona, from desert to mountain, from suburb to city. Dutton often pairs historic images of the state with his own pictures. Traveling to the same locations from which early 20th-century photographers had captured their views, he makes new photographs as close as possible in angle, perspective, and orientation. He has also re-photographed his own images, returning to locations and making new pictures over a period of years to demonstrate how the landscape has changed.
Long time Arizona residents will recognize the many images of intersections, Sun City, downtown Phoenix, and historic Arizona locations. Newcomers to Arizona will catch a glimpse of the past and compare their own view of today in contrast to the Now versions of Allen’s images. These images, deliver a look backwards with the message that twenty years in the future we might not recognize today’s familiar views as they are replaced, yet again, by the work and efforts of the next generation.
Allen Dutton’s book, Strange But True, The Arizona Photographs of Allen Dutton, includes much of the work in this exhibition, an Introduction by Paul Roth, Assistant Curator of Photography and Media at the Corcoran Museum, and an Essay by Jane Livingston, Chief Curator at the Corcoran Museum from 1975 to 1990. The images were shown in 2000 at the Corcoran Museum in Washington DC.