Richard Misrach, ‘Untitled #114-03’, 2003, Phillips

Property of a Corporate Collection, New York

From the Catalogue:
“I’ve come to believe that beauty can be a very powerful conveyor of difficult ideas.” - Richard Misrach

The expansive images from Richard Misrach’s On the Beach can initially be read as beautiful and serene, but, influenced by the events of September 11th, the body of work is embedded with deep introspection on the state of humanity and its vulnerability. The series began in Hawaii in 2002 where, from the omniscient vantage point of his hotel balcony, he photographed the beach and sea below. In Untitled #114-03 (lot 29) and Untitled #451-03 (lot 24), both the sand and sea are void of human life and it is this absence, framed against the vastness of the landscape, that Misrach uses to emphasize the fragility of life. The impact of each photographs physical presence both measuring approximately four by ten feet, with crisp detail in every footprint and wave, resonates with the viewer standing before them, the reminder of the scope in which humanity lies in the midst of everything else. The masterful level of detail in these large scale works was obtained by his dedication to using an 8 x 10 inch view camera, allowing for the exquisite details to be captured in the large format negatives and then scanned digitally before finalizing each work.

On the Beach, titled after the 1950s Nevil Shute novel and film about a Cold War, post-apocalyptic world also influenced Misrach’s artistic vision with how we confront and see humanity at its darkest moments. As Misrach surmised “Paradise has become an uneasy dwelling place; the sublime sea frames our vulnerability, the precious nature of life itself." Both images from this powerful body of work are sterling examples of Misrach's oeuvre, with his subject matter constantly exploring the interaction with people and nature, and in form, with his progressive techniques in large format color photography.

The On the Beach series was exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago and The National Gallery of Art in 2007-2008.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Signed, titled, dated and numbered 2/5 in ink on a label affixed to the reverse of the frame.

Misrach, On the Beach, pl. 35

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

About Richard Misrach

Among the most important and influential of living American photographers, Richard Misrach produces large-scale color photographs that meditate on human intervention in the landscape and probe the environmental impact of industry. Misrach’s images also convey concern with color, light, and time. His best-known series, “Desert Cantos”, captures the awful beauty of human-wrought disasters in the desert; other subjects include the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and dramatic weather systems around San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. “My own agenda [is] foregrounding the importance of time in photos, in its infinite number of permutations,” he has said.

American, b. 1949, Los Angeles, California