Richard Misrach is one of the most influential photographers of his generation, having helped pioneer the 1970s renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation that are in widespread practice today. Best known for his ongoing series Desert Cantos, a multifaceted approach to the study of place and man’s complex relationship to it, he has worked in the landscape for over 40 years. In fall 2012 and in collaboration with landscape architect Kate Orff, Misrach launched a major book and exhibition entitled Petrochemical America, which addresses the health and environmental issues associated with our dependency on oil.
Other notable bodies of work include his documentation of the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River known as “Cancer Alley;” the study of weather, time, color, and light in his serial photographs of the Golden Gate bridge; and On The Beach, an aerial perspective of human interaction and isolation. Recent projects mark departures from his work to date. In one series, he has experimented with new advances in digital capture and printing, foregrounding the negative as an end in itself and digitally creating images with astonishing detail and color spectrum. He also built a powerful narrative out of images of graffiti produced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, made with a 4-megapixel pocket camera.
Misrach has had one-person exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. His photographs are held in the collections of most major institutions, including MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; and SFMOMA. In fall 2010, on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the exhibition Untitled [New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 2005]made its debut at the New Orleans Museum of Art and was also shown at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and SFMOMA. The series 1991—The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermathwas presented in the fall of 2011 at the Berkeley Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, concurrently. The body of work Revisiting the South: Richard Misrach’s Cancer Alleywas inaugurated at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, in summer 2012 and will travel to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in 2013.
PhotoAlliance, an affiliate of SFAI, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the understanding, appreciation, and creation of contemporary photography. PhotoAlliance fosters connections within the Bay Area photography community through public programs and educational activities including workshops, lecture series, and portfolio reviews. www.photoalliance.org