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1986 Susan Rankaitis Born: Cambridge, Massachusetts 1949 combined media on photographic paper sheet and image: 90 x 48 in. (128.6 x 21.9 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase © 1986, Susan Rankaitis 1989.4 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

Susan Rakaitis was a painter before she turned to photography in the 1980s. To achieve subtle tonalities of light and depth she found unobtainable with paint, she began experimenting with photographic materials. Like a painter, she brushed or sprayed various photographic emulsions on photographic paper and added images at various stages of the process. Photograms, contact prints, projections, and enlarged multiple-generation negatives are montaged within the layered surface emulsion. Aeronautical subjects appear frequently in her work; Rankaitis’s studio at that time was near the flight path of the Los Angeles International Airport, which provided constant, repetitious views of jets lifting off from the horizon. For Rankaitis, airplanes suggest a balance of opposites: enormous mass and mysterious lightness.

A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2013



Architecture - vehicle - airplane

photography - photoprint