© Gusmano Cesaretti, 1970s, From the East Los Angeles series

When photographer Gusmano Cesaretti emigrated to East LA from Italy in the 1970s he was captivated by the cultural differences. Among the first to document the vibrant atmosphere of East LA, Cesaretti took photos of everything he saw, chronicling not only the rough exterior of the neighborhood, but also the love and vulnerability that united the residents.

Cesaretti’s uncanny intimacy with his subjects reveals a sort of humanity that Cesaretti came to embody with his work. He is drawn to the overlooked and underappreciated in order to show that culture occurs everywhere, not just within the pristine white walls of art galleries. (read more)

Speaking of which, Cesaretti’s more recent work will be on display at Roberts & Tilton until February 18th, 2012.

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Early photos of East LA street culture on display in new gallery show

This show at Roberts & Tilton of work by Gusmano Cesaretti, whose photos documented East LA life, street culture and graffiti beginning in the 1970s, looks pretty interesting for anyone into a burgeoning underground vernacular art  scene that was little noticed in the wider world at the time. Cesaretti’s work includes two books of his photos of Chicano street art/graffiti. 

If you’re in Culver City’s gallery row this weekend, this show definitely looks worth checking out. Below is the gallery’s announcement of the show.

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Roberts & Tilton is pleased to announce an exhibition presenting new and vintage photographs by Gusmano Cesaretti, curated by Aaron Rose. The main gallery will feature work from the early period of Cesaretti’s career (1970s) in which he immersed himself in the East Los Angeles culture. His photographs of this era celebrated a sub-culture that had rarely been captured before. The exhibition will include twenty-four vintage, unique prints that have recently been discovered and will be shown for the first time in Los Angeles.

An Italian immigrant who moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s, Cesaretti quickly became fascinated by East Los Angeles.Inspired by the colors, people and graffiti that populated the East Side, he began to capture the vulnerability and uncensored quality of this area. Always honest when shooting his subjects, Cesaretti presents them as they are: violent, loving, confident, scared, full of life. It is this energy and conflict inherent in those who occupy the edges of society that drives his photographic investigations.
In the Project Space at Roberts & Tilton, Cesaretti visits a turbulent section of Colón, Panama. Approached with the same spirit and tenacity reflected in his previous works, these recent intimate photographs of children in an impoverished community offer a fresh perspective into this part of the world. Cesaretti, an outsider himself, became personally connected with the subjects he was shooting. The intimacy existing in the photographs is a result of the relationships that Cesaretti built with his subjects over time. Never forcing a situation, Cesaretti addresses his subjects with great concern and patience, allowing for an essential level of trust to be established. The resulting openness between Cesaretti and his subjects permeates the work, allowing the viewer access to a world that would otherwise be guarded against outsiders.

Gusmano Cesaretti was born in 1946 in Lucca, Italy and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Cesaretti has published two books: Street Writers - A Guided Tour of Chicano Graffiti, and Physical Graffiti-4x4=24. His photographs have been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Recent exhibitions include Art in the Streets, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA), and This Side of Paradise: Body and Landscape in Los Angeles Photographs, at The Huntington Library (San Marino, CA). His photographs are in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institute (Washington D.C.) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA).

Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00am - 6:00pm. For additional information, please contact the gallery at or 323.549.0223.

Roberts & Tilton is a Participating Gallery of Pacific Standard Time. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene.

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LA Life From The 1970’s

Born in Italy but a resident of LA since the 1970’s, photographer Gusmano Cesaretti has been capturing the City of Angels and its residences for decades. This collection of photos showcases East Los Angeles street culture from his series “24 Hours in the Life of Los Angeles”. Hit the thumbs for a closer look at Cesaretti’s striking street photography.


Gusmano Cesaretti

At MOCA: Los Angeles they included some of his photos in the Art in the Streets exhibit. It was definitely a great surprise but it made sense. I came across his book Street Writers: A Guided Tour of Chicano Grafitti in the SJSU library a few years ago. SJSU library has an excellent Chicano Collection on the 5th Floor. The other 6 photos are some of his work in East Los Angeles in the 70’s. 

The photo with the three females holding spray cans caught my attention and probably became a favorite at that moment, something I could relate to.