Issue #246  12/17/2018
Photography Collector and Community Leader Gloria Katz Huyck Passes Away in L.A.

By Alex Novak

Gloria Katz Huyck
Gloria Katz Huyck

Noted screenwriter and film producer Gloria Katz Huyck died in Los Angeles on November 25th. Along with her husband Willard Huyck, Katz created the screenplays of films including American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Howard the Duck. The pair even received an Oscar nomination for American Graffiti.

Gloria was a longtime L.A.-area resident, growing up in Beverly Hills, the daughter of a wealthy L.A. truck-stop owner.

The Huyck's were long-time collectors of Japanese photography, and their collection of over 400 such prints went to the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery just this last May. The exceptional collection features over 120 Japanese photographers from the 1880s to 2015, including internationally renowned masters and an impressive representation of female and younger-generation photographers. A substantial portion of the collection consists of vintage gelatin silver prints, as well as unique collages and chromogenic prints.

To celebrate the acquisition, the Freer-Sackler opened an exhibition "Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection" on September 29, which will run through January 21, 2019. Approximately 70 photographs, dating primarily from the 1930s to the 1980s, introduce this remarkable collection and highlight seminal moments in the development of 20th-century Japanese photography. Along with a selection of experimental films and photobooks, the exhibition focuses on key photographers and their search for a sense of place in a rapidly changing country.

"Views of Japan," an account of the Huycks' collecting adventures, designed by Manfred Heiting, was published by Steidl at the end of 2016. While their book is ostensibly about Japanese photography, Katz and Huyck's tales of acquiring their photos at times turns "Views of Japan" into a meditation on collecting and the crazier aspects of competing with other collectors.

Gloria joined the Photographic Arts Council at LACMA and became its Chair in 2008. When the independent non-profit group PAC/LA was formed in 2012, she continued as Chair. She was also on the Getty Museum Photography Council, which is where I met her and her husband Willard.

I knew something was wrong when her husband Willard emailed me to cancel their regular spots at our Paris Photo dinner. He mentioned that Gloria was in the hospital, but I never thought it was quite as serious as this. Gloria was always effervescent, proverbially that person so full of life that you'd assume they would go on forever. It might be a cliche, but her laugh was infectious, and she will indeed be missed.

As Gloria once said in an interview, "As far as current trends in collecting photography, there is an interesting push to try to get people to remember that photographs aren't just images. You can see trillions of images everyday on your computer. But a photograph is an object. It's been made by somebody, and it exists as a beautiful object."

Gloria is survived by her husband Willard and daughter Rebecca.