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The Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park launches the first-ever U.S. museum retrospective on the photography of actress Jessica Lange, who has turned a camera on the world, amassing a collection of moody and mysterious black-and-white photographs.

Jessica Lange

Photo by Jessica Lange

Photo by Jessica Lange

In the 1970s, she shared an apartment in Paris with Grace Jones and Jerry Hall; her inamoratos have included Mikhail Baryshnikov and Sam Shepard; and she has been nominated for an Oscar six times, winning twice. Jessica Lange is one of Hollywood’s most regal and fascinating leading ladies, who has also electrified on the small screen, earning Emmys for her work on the FX series American Horror Story and the HBO film Grey Gardens.

What many don’t know is that her original path was that of an artist, earning a scholarship to study art and photography at the University of Minnesota. Travels to Europe, modeling and an acting career intervened, though, and it wasn’t until years later that she returned to photography, documenting her family and her trips abroad, including her overseas work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

The Museum of Photographic Arts (mopa.org) will present the first museum retrospective of Lange’s work in the U.S. with the exhibit Jessica Lange: Unseen, through May 19. The show features more than 120 black-and-white film images that lyrically capture decisive moments in everyday life (in some extraordinary places), calling to mind the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

“Her work is dark, quiet,” says MOPA Executive Director Deborah Klochko. “It takes you to unexpected places, and I think that’s always wonderful when we can experience something we haven’t experienced before.”