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Don Jim Silver Gelatin Photograph "Opened," Circa 1978

Item Details

Don Jim (Hawaii/Los Angeles, 1922 – 2006)
Variation of Opened, circa 1978
Silver gelatin photograph
From the series Urban Artifax (Found Objects)
Artist estate stamp to the verso

A silver-gelatin photograph by photographer Don Jim, from his series Urban Artifax (Found Objects). For this series, Jim wandered the streets of Los Angeles in the manner of an archaeologist, with his head downward, focusing on the ground. Embedded in the asphalt, he discovered miscellaneous metal objects, such as nails, screws, bullets, and can openers, which he photographed for the series. Jim’s artistic vision found human and symbolic form in these everyday objects, titling them based on what he felt they resembled in his personal lexicon. His composition and masterful lighting effects transcend the discarded objects into iconic, abstract images. In 2007, this particular series earned him the nickname “Rubble Rowser” in the LA Weekly newspaper.

Chinese-American photographer, Don Jim shares a proclivity for visualizing figural and symbolic imagery in abstract form and everyday objects. Born in Hawaii, he spent two years in the WWII army, then moved to Los Angeles to study photography at the Art Center College of Design. As a young commercial photographer, he created album covers for a number of musicians in the 1960s, including Jimmy Cliff, the Byrds, and Deep Purple, among others. He also produced a majority of the 3-D View-Master photographs for California tourist attractions, such as Hearst Castle and Disneyland. During Jim’s career, he became recognized for his perfectionism in lighting and his ability to photograph reflective and shiny surfaces, such as glass, chrome, stainless steel, foil, and neon. This skill was transferred to the streets when he began his personal photographic projects in his 50s. It was at this time that he began a multitude of series that demonstrate his ability to transform everyday objects into abstract and symbolic beauty. Some of his subjects include the nude female form, objects embedded in asphalt streets, tar dripping on rooftops, and paint peeling off old walls. During his lifetime, not much of Jim’s work was ever seen or publicly displayed. However, after his death in 2006, his wife Margo inherited a large majority of his personal work, which today she works to preserve and exhibit for the public. Since the late artist’s passing, his work has been exhibited by Art Basel Miami, the Barry Singer Gallery, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD), Dkrm. Gallery, Luminous-Lint, and Classic Photographs Los Angeles. To view the artist’s website, please see the link below.


- minor wear and toning to sheet.


16.0" W x 20.0" H x 0.1" D

- measures sheet; image measures 14.5" W x 16" H.

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Don Jim

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