As a young artist, Michael Jang captured L.A. glitz, San Francisco streets, and his Chinese-American family.
Sometime in 2002, the photographer Michael Jang went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and dropped off some of his old pictures that he had recently rediscovered. At the time, the museum’s photography department had an open-submission policy; the curators would consider work that anyone brought in. Though Jang had worked locally as a successful professional photographer, he had all but forgotten about the work he had done in the seventies, when he was an art student who snuck into lavish parties, went to punk shows, and wandered the streets. The museum soon called him back, adding some of his work to its permanent collection and later exhibiting it as part of a show about California. Jang’s images were mischievous and quirky, full of visual jokes about how the rich and famous and the freaks and burnouts weren’t all that different from one another. In the years since, Jang has spent more time digging through his archives. The result is a stunning monograph, “Who Is Michael Jang?” (A related exhibition, “Michael Jang’s California” will be on exhibit at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, in San Francisco, from September 27th to January 18, 2020.)