United States, 1911-1985
Gelatin silver print, 1947
Collection Museum of Photographic Arts
Bequest of Max Yavno Estate
©1995 Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation
© Museum of Photographic Arts
Max Yavno spent the early part of his photographic career making documentary images of life in New York City. He was closely associated with the Photo League, an organization of humanitarian photographers, and shared this group's interest in portraying the dignity and vibrancy of people. After serving in the military during World War II, he relocated to the West Coast where he discovered the distinctive character of this region and its inhabitants and began making photographs that explored the spirit of urban California.
Muscle Beach shows Yavno's fascination with the activities at this beach in Los Angeles. To make this photograph, he set up his camera at the same spot for three consecutive Sundays and took over seventy exposures. This final image shows a crowded beach with some people engaged in activities and others just watching what is going on around them. In the background are the signs of food stalls on the boardwalk.
(For Grades 4-6)
Why do you think the photographer chose to take this photograph from behind the subjects? How would this photograph be different if the couple in the foreground were facing the camera?
What do the signs in the background and the people's clothing tell you about the setting? What about the time period?
If the photographer took the picture from the opposite side, what would be different?
This list of resources is available for use at the Dubois Library at the Museum of Photographic Arts. The Library is open by appointment to MOPA Members, educators and researchers, and its collections are available for on-site use only. Contact the Library at 619-238-7559x216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yavno, Max. Archival Materials. Vertical Files. Museum of Photographic Arts, Edmund L. and Nancy K. Dubois Library, San Diego, CA.
Yavno, Max. 1986. Max Yavno: poetry and clarity : a portfolio of seven duotone offset prints from the exhibition at the Museum of Photographic Arts, Balboa Park, San Diego, California, 10 December to 2 February 1986. San Diego, Calif: Museum of Photographic Arts.
Yavno, Max, and Ben Maddow. 1981. The photography of Max Yavno. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.