Discovering Lynn G. Fayman
In 2013, the Museum of Photographic Arts became the recipient of the Lynn G. Fayman Archive, which includes his slides, photographs, exhibition history, correspondence, articles, and awards. Lynn G. Fayman (1904 – 1968), was a San Diego photographer and filmmaker, whose work explores the ideas of abstract imagery. Working in post-WWII America, Fayman embraced the spirit of experimentation, not only in photography, but in all art forms. During this period, artists throughout the world were breaking down the boundaries of different mediums, using form and color as a means of personal expression. Fayman’s commitment to modern art in San Diego also marked an important contribution to abstraction in 20th century photography.
Trained as a landscape architect, Fayman began his first experimentations with photography in the late 1920s while working on park designs in Germany. In 1943, Fayman sought an education in photography at the Art Center School, Los Angeles (now the Art Center College of Design), where he was introduced to the philosophies of the German Bauhaus school, which promoted bold experimentation in art and design. Influenced by the artist László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946), Fayman began using color slides in 1948 to capture refraction, diffraction, and reflection of light as “color expression”.
With a unique focus on architecture, art, and design, the Bauhaus promoted “a unity of art, science, and technology in the service of humanity”. As an artist, Moholy-Nagy was fascinated by texture and form, creating paintings and photograms that were dominated by their compositions, rather than their content. Consider how Fayman’s abstract works relate to Bauhaus themes through their use of form, color, and composition.
Upon completion of his course at the Art Center School, Fayman was employed by the Ryan Aeronautical Company in San Diego as a photographer. He quickly became entrenched in the local art scene as a member of the Allied Craftsmen.* This collective of artists explored the international state of modern art and architecture, hosting events and supporting exhibitions.
*Prior to being known as the Allied Craftsmen, the collective began in 1946 as the Allied Artists’ Council. In 1948, the Council disbanded, becoming the Allied Craftsmen.
In 1949, the Eastman Kodak Company released Flexichrome, which became Fayman’s most favored process. Its ability to empower the photographer with unlimited creative control of color inspired Fayman like no other photographic process during his lifetime.
It was a multi-step method of making full color prints or transparencies from black-and-white negatives through hand application of colored dyes. The dyes were painted onto the original black-and-white image and washed with acid one color at a time. Each time a colored dye was painted over another, it replaced the original coat of color (i.e. if blue is painted on top of yellow, the colors will not combine to produce green, but rather, just a vibrant blue). When all desired colors had been applied, the image was finished with a coat of lacquer and hung up to dry, creating a final glossy color photograph.
The images Fayman created challenge our ideas about what a photograph can be. Throughout his career, he photographed everyday objects, foliage, and landscapes in search of interesting juxtapositions of colors, patterns, and textures.
Lynn G. Fayman was an active supporter of the arts in San Diego. Through his 24 consecutive years of service on the Board of Trustees at the La Jolla Art Center (now the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) and his membership as part of the Allied Craftsmen from 1946 until his passing in 1968, he was an integral part of the local community.
“As an extension of man’s physical eye to his inner eye, photo/imagery offers unlimited opportunity for expression.”
– Lynn G. Fayman
For more information, check out:
Online Archive of California finding aid:
Edmund L. and Nancy K. Dubois Library catalog:
Featured images (in order, top to bottom):
~ Self Portrait
~ Untitled, c. 1950 (2013.002.0534), Series: Original Abstracts
~ Abstraction of a Spring, 1949 (2013.002.0543), Series: Original Abstracts
~ Untitled (2013.002.0613), Series: Original Abstracts
~ Untitled (2013.002.0663), Series: Original Abstracts
~ Untitled, c. 1950 (2013.002.0682), Series: Original Abstracts
~ Blue-Green Glass and Water, c. 1960 (2013.002.0063), Series: Abstract Seconds and References
~ Evolving Color, c. 1949 (2013.002.0002), Series: Flexichrome
~ Red Feather, c. 1949 (2013.002.0003), Series: Flexichrome
~ Hocus Pocus, c. 1949 (2013.002.0009), Series: Flexichrome
~ Water Jewel, c. 1949 (2013.002.0012), Series: Flexichrome
~ Red Leaf, Green and Blue Background, c. 1960 (2013.002.0355), Series: Flowers and Foliage
~ Untitled, c. 1958 (2013.002.0939), Series: Patterns and Textures
~ Cornucopia Glass Vase Curl, c. 1950 (2013.002.0977), Series: Still Life
~ Hi-Key Blowing Gold Poppies, c. 1960 (2013.002.0362), Series: Flowers and Foliage
~ Untitled [Eucalyptus], c. 1965 (2013.002.1017), Series: Texture Studies