Richard Misrach is an incredible photographer.

Let’s not all get bogged down in argument, disagreement or semantics. The ‘Oakland Fire’ pictures alone kill me every time I go to them; I sit there with my head in my hands just gobsmacked. By the time you’ve spent time looking at the ‘Salton Sea’ and ‘Desert Fire’ pictures you’re spinning out of control, spiraling towards the ground at increasing speed.

Unlike so many monographs, the Fraenkel Gallery’s tome Chronologies (ISBN 1-933045-28-0) simply lays out a number of photographs sequentially by date. Different projects all split up, some overlapping and interwoven. It is a slab of a book, beautifully finished and a joy to leaf through. A fascinating concept, where projects are not removed from each other, are not seen in isolation, rather we are given a wonderful brief insight into Misrach’s working life.

On first picking up the book you are quickly knocked around by the layout. Most images demand that the large book is turned so that they can be viewed. The book works with the spine running horizontally in front of you (ie rotate the book 90 degrees). It is at first a little weird to look through a book in this manner.

But then you run into some of the long double page spread pics, and you are forced to turn the book again. The seashore photos demand this change. You look down on the scene of people sprawled on the sand or floating in the water, heavily textured and full of inclusions that get your eyes roaming around the scene. They would be strong objects when seen as prints on the wall.

Being a muppet, I was never aware of the 2 1/4 B&W night pictures from the 1970’s until I purchased Chronologies. Fantastic.

There are many pieces of writing available on the web that go out into his pictures, dissecting them and digging around… sometimes just chasing their own tails, but on occasion helping with a little insight or pointing out something that makes a few things clear.

3 Responses to Misrach

  • Sean says:

    “…lays out a number of photographs sequentially by date. Different projects all split up, some overlapping and interwoven.”

    That is just such an interesting and inspiring way to produce a book. So real and organic.

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