"A grand, explosive, creative talent."
Big, beautiful Art Brewer, the Californian photographer whose work defined surfing over five decades, and who created the legend of Bunker Spreckels via his ionic imagery, has died.
“Without all those incredible Brewer photos, we wouldn’t even be talking about Bunker Spreckels,” the surf historian Matt Warshaw told me a few years back. “Bunker in many ways was Art’s muse. He made Art a better photographer, helped bring out the genius.”
Art, who was seventy-one, had been in UCLA’s intensive care unit since July following a liver transplant. You’ll remember a couple of weeks back the GoFundMe that was set up to help cover his exorbitant medical bills; the first invoice he received was for quarter-of-a-million dollars despite being fully insured.
Referred to “as the sport’s most naturally gifted surf photographer”, Art owned the seventies, eighties and nineties in the American surf mags before splitting to do more lucrative commercial work, although his surf spirit still soared.
View this post on Instagram
“Brewer’s size (he once weighed nearly 300 pounds) and flaring temper, meanwhile, further suggested the idea of grand, even explosive creative talent,” wrote Matt Warshaw. “At times Brewer played on his aggression. Asked to supply a self-portrait for a 1997 portfolio, ‘this big elephant seal of a man,’ as described by surf journalist Evan Slater, provided a green-tinged face shot negative, jaggedly cut in two, then taped and stapled back together, with the handwritten caption: ‘Surf photography constipates me!’”
But also: “Brewer’s eye for color and framing is unmatched in the surf world, and much of his best work has been done as a portraitist, when he has unfettered control over light, texture, and mood.”
The Hawaii-based photographer Brian Bielmann, another long-serving great, wrote,