Midcentury modern photographer Jack Laxer dead at 91

Photographer Jack Laxer, who famously captured LA’s Midcentury Modern architecture through a stereo camera lens, has died.

Jack Laxer died in Culver City at the age of 91. He spent more than six decades depicting architecture in Los Angeles and other colorful locations around the world.

He was born in Brooklyn and moved to LA in 1950. He documented celebrity homes, race tracks and space-age Googie coffee shops using a stereo camera. He photographed Harold Lloyd’s Christmas tree, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s house.

“What we love about Jack’s photography is its ability to bring you into the scene. Not only is it color and rich beautiful Kodachrome, but it’s in stereo. You have to put this gadget up to your head to crawl into these pictures and you just fall into this beautiful lost world,” said LA historian Chris Nichols, a former chairman of the LA Conservancy Modern Committee and an editor at Los Angeles magazine.

Architects including Paul Revere Williams, William F. Cody, and Armét & Davis hired him to take 3D photos of their buildings.

His stereo camera made him stand out from other architectural photographers of the time, like Julius Shulman, Leland Lee and Marvin Rand.

“Jack went to Paul R. Williams, the architect, and tried to get work, and Williams said, ‘we’ve already got Julius Shulman, why should we hire you? Your work is great, but it has to be distinctive,'” Nichols said. “And Jack heard that and discovered the Stereo Realist camera, and really made that the tool of his art and his expression.”

Laxer later turned to international travel photography and teaching. He lectured at the Getty Center, California Science Center, and around the world.

The LA Conservancy presented him with their “Modern Master” award in 2009.

While many of the buildings he shot have been demolished, they live on in his photographs.

Laxer is survived by his wife of 63 years, and two daughters.