New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Richard Misrach

An excellent, small show of the work of Richard Misrach, perhaps our greatest living photographer of landscape, can be seen at Pace/MacGill where the current penchant for the over-sized is fully indulged. Large scale color images, many of them printed in negative, explore his quintessential subject matter–the natural world and its occasional brush with the human one.

Their affinity with the later work of Harry Callahan is much in evidence in this show, especially in the open washes of tone. The sheer gorgeousness of his imagery defies the contemporary esthetic canon of "convulsive beauty" laid down by the Surrealists over 75 years ago. Indeed, one wonders how Misrach's work ever slipped past the defenders of artistic respectability that guard against all such exquisiteness.

Perhaps the resonant undercurrent of the uncanny did it, the lightening in the desert, the peculiarity of a solitary iceberg. For there is an odd and wonderful vibration in Misrach's work which raises it far above the pictorialism with which it has such obvious similarities. (Even the pictorialism of Adams and Sullivan–an entrenched tradition in American photography if a sideshow in modern art.) You can feel that quality here in the Pace/MacGill show, the eerie and unnerving celebration of a Nature ever so slightly evil.

Richard Misrach

Pace/Macgill Chelsea
534 W 25th St.
Chelsea         Map

212 929 7000

Friday, January 15 to
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Hours: Tues-Sat 10 to 6