Lonely Car Company

Gus Powell | August 14 – October 21, 2023

Leica Store San Francisco is pleased to announce Lonely Car Company, an exhibition of photographs by New York-based artist Gus Powell. Spanning the Powell's career, this exhibition features over 30 works made in the past 20 years covering three of Powell’s most important projects, Family Car Trouble, The Lonely Ones, and The Company of Strangers. The gallery will host a public reception with the artist on Thursday, August 17, from 4-8pm

To Browse Available Prints Please See Our Artsy Page

Gus Powell,  Photographed by Wayne Serrano
Gus Powell, Photographed by Wayne Serrano

About the Artist

Gus Powell (b. 1974, New York City, NY; lives and works New York City, NY) attended Oberlin College where he majored in comparative religion. In 2003 he was selected to be in PDNs 30 under 30 issue and also published his first monograph, The Company of Strangers (J&L Books). His work has been exhibited internationally, including a solo show at The Museum of The City of New York and group exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts Houston and FOAM, NL.

His photographs have been published in Aperture, Harpers, Vogue, M le mag – Le Monde, Wired, Fortune, W, and The New Yorker. He is a member of the international street photographers’ collective UP and is on the faculty of the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Arts, NY.

His work is included in the books Bystander: A World History of Street Photography and Street Photography Now. Powell’s second monograph, titled The Lonely Ones (J&L Books, 2015) was celebrated as one of the best photography books of the year, and was reprinted as a trilingual edition in 2017. His third monograph, Family Car Trouble (TBW Books, 2019) has become a new classic of the Automotive Parenting Bereavement genre. Powell is currently at work on a body of street work titled Mise en Scène.

Family Car Trouble

With Family Car Trouble, Powell plays with the form of the novel, both as material object and as narrative vehicle for expressing interior life. The work records and reckons with the arrival of children, the departure of a father, and the maintenance of a difficult 1993 Volvo 940 Turbo station wagon. A new classic of the Automotive Bereavement Parenting genre.

The Lonely Ones

Inspired by the late, great cartoonist William Steig and his classic book, The Lonely Ones (which pairs Steig’s line-drawn characters with simple one-liners of dialogue-to-self), Powell made his own “lonely ones”—quiet but evocative color photographs of interiors and landscapes, inhabited by people, animals and inanimate characters. Every photograph is paired with a suggestive text, functioning here as the opposite of a caption—each of the 40 color photographs in the publication of The Lonely Ones is hidden by a gate fold, on which is printed the single phrase. Every photograph is revealed individually behind its gate fold. “Which way to the symposium?,” paired with a photograph of a butterfly in midair. “Let’s not ruin it by talking.” “Mistakes were made.” “This might hurt.” “Another small victory.” “I am the host of this misadventure.”

The Company Of Strangers

Inspired by Frank O'Hara's 1964 book Lunch Poems, Powell, who worked for four years as picture editor at the New Yorker, would spend his own lunch hours wandering midtown Manhattan making poetry. The resulting book of street photography, featuring photographs from his series Lunch Pictures, feels both romantic/nostalgic, and strikingly contemporary. Powell’s attention to the choreography of pedestrians is remarkable, as is his rendering of midtown light, refracted by office buildings and glass.


Based On A True Story - A Workshop with Gus Powell

In this workshop Gus Powell will explore the narrative and poetic qualities of photography and the photobook. He will discuss working within the tradition of street photography to make work that embraces both the universal and the ambiguous in equal measure.

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To inquire about the availability of Gus Powells prints see our Artsy page or email [email protected]