Jack Laxer, Photographer of Googie Architecture, Dies at 91

Legendary 3D photographer captured midcentury L.A.

Jack Laxer, who spent more than six decades immortalizing great architecture and colorful places around the world through the art of 3D photography, has died in Culver City at the age of 91. Laxer moved to Los Angeles during the post-WWII building boom and turned his stereo camera on celebrity homes, race tracks, and the Googie architecture of Armet & Davis.

Carolina Pines, Jr. on Vermont Ave. near 6th Street (Demolished) by architects Armet & Davis

Photo by Jack Laxer

Pann’s at La Tijera, La Cienega, and Centinela (1958) by architects Armet & Davis

Photo by Jack Laxer

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That’s how I first met Jack, digging through slides in preparation for a Los Angeles Conservancy tribute to the work of Armet & Davis. Jack appreciated the theatricality that came with viewing stereo slides—unpacking the ancient viewing equipment, placing the huge, electrified viewer to your face, and then watching your fall into that gorgeous lost world of saturated Kodachrome lushness. There’s no better form of time travel than trying to crawl inside these images.

Pann’s at La Tijera, La Cienega, and Centinela (1958) by architects Armet & Davis

Photo by Jack Laxer

Jack was hilarious and dry and sophisticated and silly all at the same time. He photographed everything from backyard parties to chemical molecules with precision, and everything in life was exacting—from his obsession over the right kinds of tripods to the proper way to serve pizza (with an extra heated plate inverted on top).

Norms Huntington Park by architects Armet & Davis

Photo by Jack Laxer

Penguin Coffee Shop at Lincoln and Olympic in Santa Monica (now Mel’s Drive-In) by architects Armet & Davis

Photo by Jack Laxer

After photographing buildings for Paul R. Williams in Los Angeles, Charles Luckman in New York, and William Cody in Palm Springs, Laxer turned his attention to international travel programs and teaching. Jack Laxer was a master of 3D photography and was member of the Stereo Club of Southern California for many decades—among the last holdouts working exclusively in analog. The Conservancy presented him with the “Modern Master” award in 2009 and he was a featured speaker at last year’s Googie World Expo. He is survived by Jan, his wife of 63 years, and two daughters.

Jack Laxer behind the wheel of a 1958 Oldsmobile

Photo by Chris Nichols


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