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Paul Kagan
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New York City
A photographer, graphic artist and author, Paul Kagan is remembered for the rock concert posters featuring his photographs published during San Francisco’s psychedelic Sixties and the book of photographs depicting utopian communities he published in 1975. Born in Chicago in 1943, Kagan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1965 with a degree in history. He had also learned photography and won a photographic award at the University’s Arts Festival in 1965. In the years following his graduation Kagan worked as a commercial photographer, magazine art director and television news writer as well as a fine-art photographer. His photographs were exhibited in a solo shows at Stanford University in 1966 and the University of California Extension campus in San Francisco in 1973, and appeared in a group show at the Light Sound Dimension Gallery in one of the several Rolling Renaissance exhibitions in San Francisco in 1968. During the late ‘60s Kagan created erotic photographs that appeared in rock concert posters. Victor Moscoso (b. 1936) used a Kagan photograph of a nude couple dancing in a 1967 poster and David Smith used another Kagan photograph of a nude couple in a 1968 poster, both for Avalon Ballroom rock concerts sponsored by Chet Helms (1942-2005) and the Family Dog. Kagan designed posters using his photographs of nude couples for two other 1968 Avalon Ballroom concerts. He took publicity photographs of the band Country Joe and the Fish in 1966. His photographs were used for LP album covers for four albums released in 1967. His photographs appeared in several periodicals, including “Rolling Stone” magazine, the “Berkeley Barb” and “Berkeley Tribe” weekly newspapers and on the cover of Ramparts magazine. Around 1970 he began research and photograph California utopian communities supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and then another grant from the California Historical Society. When his book “New World Utopias: A Photographic History of the Search for Community” was published in 1975, he was working as a writer and photographer for a health information project sponsored by the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. An exhibition of the photographs of utopian communities Kagan took and collected, “New World Utopias: The Search for Community in the West: 1975-1975,” was mounted at the Oakland Museum in 1975 and then traveled around the United States. By the late 1970s he was working as a photographer with a San Francisco advertising agency, Dailey & Associates, where he won trade group awards for several advertisements featuring his photographs. Kagan died in New York City in 1993. (TNB 2/2017)