Pace and Pace/MacGill Gallery are pleased to present On The Beach 2.0, an exhibition of new large-scale photographs by Richard Misrach. The exhibition will be on view at 510 West 25th Street from May 4 through June 29, 2013. An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 3 from 6 to 8 PM.
Nine years after introducing his On the Beach series at Pace, Misrach revisits the same subject matter to create a dynamic dialogue with the earlier work. New digital technology has enabled him to capture movement and also to freeze the motion of the water, yielding an abstract, painterly effect heretofore unseen in his work.
Shooting from a hotel balcony in Hawaii, Misrach documents the sea’s changes in color and energy, as well as the humans who enter the ocean’s immensity to float, swim, surf, perform, and sometimes curl at its edge. Parts of this body of work are the closest Misrach has come to portraiture, though while human figures are present, they are dwarfed in the vast landscape—usually comprised entirely of the sea. The artist obscures their faces, or captures them obscuring themselves, wrapping their bodies in a towel or holding up a newspaper to protect their skin from the scorch of sun. The natural world remains the central character—powerful and unknowable. Nineteenth-century Romanticism filters through Misrach’s Californian sensibility to yield a new sublime.
The first On the Beach series was named after Nevil Shute’s 1957 post-apocalyptic novel that ends with a couple in a submarine searching for other surviving humans. However, Misrach’s messages of warning—his recent book Petrochemical America documents chemical run-off in the Mississippi, an area known as Cancer Alley—have not prevented him from depicting the magnificence of the earth, all the while exploring issues relating to the planet’s potential destruction.
Some of Misrach’s first artistic forays took place in the desert, where he drove around in a van with a cumbersome 8 x 10 view-camera. New digital equipment permits him to photograph with speed, capturing a couple shifting through the movements of a tandem surfing routine, or in low light to arrest subtle tones of the sea at dawn or dusk.
The individual works have neutral titles, reflecting the date and time that they were made (Untitled, February 14, 2012, 6:19 PM). By contrast, the exhibition title, On the Beach 2.0, conjures Silicon Valley and software technology with built-in obsolescence, as rusted and dated as the Sputnik that was launched into orbit the same year that Shute’s On the Beach was published. By contrasting temporal moments with the unfathomable qualities of the sea, Misrach—typically interested in physically liminal spaces—turns his attention to the metaphysical shifts in consciousness that may occur while surrounded by the sea.
Richard Misrach (b. 1949, Los Angeles) received a B.A. in 1971 from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1973, 1977, 1984, 1992), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1979), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for a Publication (1988), the Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography from the German Society of Photography (2002), and the Lucie Award for Achievement in Fine Art Photography (2008).
Misrach’s photographs have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and can be found in over 50 museum collections worldwide, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Monographs of his work include: Telegraph 3 A.M.: The Street People of Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley (1974); Desert Cantos (1987); Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West (1990); Violent Legacies: Three Cantos (1992); Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach (1996); The Sky Book (2000); Richard Misrach: Golden Gate (2001); Pictures of Paintings (2002); Chronologies (2005); On the Beach (2007); Destroy This Memory (2010); Petrochemical America (2012); and Golden Gate (2012).
Misrach lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and works predominantly in the American West. He has been represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery since 2002.