Sky Bookby Richard Misrach, Rebecca Solnit
Richard Misrach has redefined contemporary landscape photography with his images of the splendor and destruction of the American West. Each of his "cantos" considers another chapter in the epic story of humankind and the land. Far from portraying the edenic pristine landscapes of early practitioners such as Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, or Ansel Adams, Misrach's compelling and often troubling images of the American West pose important questions about human impact on the natural world. Beneath the remarkable beauty of Misrach's color photographs are scenes of floods, fires, nuclear testing grounds, dead animals, and the debris of society.
The photographs in The Sky Book comprise Richard Misrach's most recent, most ambitious series, which transposes his narrative from the land to the sky. The images mediate between document and abstraction, reality and metaphor. Drawing on photography's documentary tradition, Misrach contextualizes each photograph with respect to time and place, rooting the celestial realm firmly in the earthly and political one.
In this way, his images are reminiscent of the efforts of nineteenth-century expeditionary photographers to record the natural resources of the frontier. At the same time, Misrach's sky pictures are a quiet meditation and a study of ephemerality, light, and color. They evoke a legacy of abstraction in art and photography that includes Alfred Steiglitz's "Equivalents" and Mark Rothko's color field paintings.
Rebecca Solnit's lucid essay traces the history of place-names and reflects on how men have long imposed themselves on the landscape - and on the skies - through language. She considers the aesthetic and conceptual narratives told by Misrach's photographs of the sky, which, as she writes, "is the consciousness of landscape."
About the Authors:
Internationally acclaimed photographer Richard Misrach has been photographing the landscape for over twenty years. His work is included in over fifty museum collections worldwide. His numerous publications include Desert Cantos (1987), Bravo 20: the Bombing of the American West (1990), Violent Legacies (1992), and Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach (1996).
Rebecca Solnit writes extensively on photography and landscape. She is a contributing editor to Art Issues and Creative Camera and is the author of three books. She has contributed essays to several museum catalogues including Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach and the Whitney Museum's Beat Culture and the New America. She was 1993 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
- Arena Editions
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 12.38(w) x 9.78(h) x 0.80(d)
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