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Richard Misrach: On the Beach

October 11, 2008 - January 18, 2009

 

Richard Misrach, renowned color photographer of the desert, has turned his eye and his camera to water. In the past five years, Misrach has been working on a series of pictures of beaches, the ocean, sunbathers, and swimmers, shot from above. Dramatically scaled, with some being as large as 6 x 10 feet, the photographs envelop the viewer with a strangely disorienting view. The viewer is confronted with details of the people in the pictures, but is also made to contemplate the inconsequential place of humankind on the vast landscape of the earth's beaches and waters. Stirred by the events of September 11, 2001, Misrach's title On the Beach references Nevil Shute's Cold War novel about nuclear holocaust. (right: Richard Misrach. Untitled #192-03, 2003. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York)

A large-format artist's book, replete with lush reproductions of the photographs, will accompany the exhibition.

Richard Misrach: On the Beach was organized for the Henry by Chief Curator Elizabeth Brown. The exhibition is presented with major support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, ArtsFund, and PONCHO. This exhibition was initiated by the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

About Richard Misrach

Born in 1949 in Los Angeles, Richard Misrach helped pioneer the renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation in the 1970s. Misrach is best known for his ongoing series, Desert Cantos, a body of work spanning more than 35 years in which he studies the landscape and man's complex relationship to it. Additional bodies of work include his documentation of the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River known as Cancer Alley, a rigorous study of weather and time in his serial photographs of the Golden Gate, and his current project, On the Beach, in which he photographs human interaction and isolation.

Misrach's photographs are held in collections of over fifty major institutions, including the Henry Art Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A mid-career survey was organized by the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 1996. Among the monographs published on his work are Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West; Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach; The Sky Book; Richard Misrach: Golden Gate; and Chronologies.

Richard Misrach is the recipient of numerous awards in the arts including four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2006-2007, the exhibition Richard Misrach: On the Beach will begin at the Art Institute of Chicago, and travel to The Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu; National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Of his On the Beach photographs, Misrach wrote:

"I was drawn to the fragility and grace of the human figure in the landscape. My thinking about this work was influenced by the events of 9/11, particularly by the images of individuals and couples falling from the World Trade Towers, as well as by the 1950s Cold War novel and film On the Beach. Paradise has become an uneasy dwelling place; the sublime sea frames our vulnerability, the precious nature of life itself."

 

(above: Richard Misrach. Untitled #1132-04. 2004. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.)

 

(above: Richard Misrach. Untitled #394-03. 2003. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.)

 

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