Let’s Get Lost

by | 05. Sep 2012

Exhibitions and Events

Photo © Jim McHughThe Cocoanut Grove

Jim McHugh sees through his lens darkly, he strays into the dramatically charged neighborhoods occupied by Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Raymond Chandler.
/Joseph Giovannini

Known for his recent large format Polaroid prints of Los Angeles, Jim McHugh has been photographing common things in an uncommon manner for thirty years.

As the grandson of a golden-era Hollywood songwriter, McHugh is heir to a particular experience and vision of Los Angeles that’s all romance, noir, silhouetted buildings, and casual luxury. With his knack for photographing buildings in the intimate style of a portraitist, and in such a way as to erase all traces of intervening history, McHugh’s photographs capture the ghost of what was – and might be again – LA’s promise of beauty and the sunny, shadowy, glittering character of America in its vintage red-carpet regalia.


Photo courtesy Jim McHugh

This series of photographs of Los Angeles began in the early 1990s. All of the images are captured on Polaroid film, a medium that is no longer manufactured. Each image is unique.

The photographs are a homage to the Los Angeles I remember as a child. It is the city my mother came to from Minnesota to become a beautiful starlet at RKO Pictures in 1941. Los Angeles is the city my song writing grandfather, Jimmy McHugh, arrived at by train in 1930. He came during the Depression to write songs for the movies because all the Broadway Theaters were closing. One of the first songs he wrote for films was “I’m in the Mood for Love” – on a piano that was a good luck gift from his friend. George Gershwin. Back in New York, at the Cotton Club, he had already composed “I can’t give you anything but love, baby,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and many others with his celebrated lyricist Dorothy Fields. It was here in Hollywood that he teamed up with Frank Loesser to create the iconic tune “Let’s get Lost.” It is the song I most identify with the city.

Much of their Los Angeles is lost or unseen today, dwarfed by larger, newer structures, or hidden in neighborhoods that are now derelict, faded remnants of an earlier beauty. A few of the most memorable icons are gone, simply demolished.

This photographic adventure has been a personal journey into memory and time; I see an earlier Los Angeles disappearing, slipping away into the soft trumpet sounds of Chet Baker’s “Let’s get Lost.

/Jim McHugh

Photo © Jim McHughThe Culver Hotel


Photo © Jim McHughThe Culver Hotel


Photo © Jim McHughThe Ancelle


Photo © Jim McHughHotel Roosevelt


Photo © Jim McHughHotel Las Palmas


Photo © Jim McHughThe Gilbert Hotel


Photo © Jim McHughHalifax Apartments


Photo © Jim McHughLos Altos Hotel and Apartments


Photo © Jim McHughLido Apartments


Photo © Jim McHughThe Du Barry

Gallery owner Timothy Yarger invited friends of McHugh and the gallery to a special event where Taschen Executive Editor Jim Heinemann, who has lived in Los Angeles for over 60 years, and Jim McHugh reminisced about the LA of yesterday.


Photo: arcspace

Frank Loesser, who wrote the lyrics to “Let’s Get Lost” for Jimmy McHugh, was also at the event. Here with Jim McHugh.


Photo: arcspace


CITYBeverly Hills, California