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Pictures of Paintings by Richard Misrach
$85.00: Add to Cart

Text by Weston Naef
and Navjotika Kumar

A Blind Spot Book
published by powerHouse Books

Clothbound with tip-on
13.25 x 11.25 inches
128 pages
plus four multi-page gatefolds
73 four-color photographs
ISBN 1-57687-147-9

"There is frame; but frame does not exist."
—Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting

What do paintings signify in an age of photographs? How do photographs modify the visual language of paintings? Richard Misrach's Pictures of Paintings showcases photographs of select museum masterpieces by Thomas Eakins, Gericault, Anthony Van Dyck, Frederick Remington, William Adolphe Bourgereau, Martin Johnson Heade, Orazio Riminaldi, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, among others. Working primarily in the art museums of the American West, along with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, he photographed details of paintings not unlike those normally found in art historical texts, but to a different end. Misrach attempts to reexamine these details, not so much as a guide to the artist's style or technique, but as a means of understanding a lexicon of cultural values, among them race, gender, religion, and power. By collapsing the barriers between the traditional practice of documentation and the recent strategies of appropriation art, these photographs raise important questions regarding representation itself. Pictures of Paintings marks the first comprehensive compilation of this significant body of work.

"When I was working on this canto I thought it reflected a collision between two primary practices of photography: appropriation art like Sherrie Levine's and the documentary tradition like Walker Evans'...well, actually with a slight nod to Evans."
—Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach was born in Los Angeles in 1949 and received a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. His photographs have been widely exhibited and published, and are in the collections of over fifty major institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, all in NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris. Selections from his series, "Desert Cantos," have appeared in several award-winning monographs, among them Desert Cantos (University of New Mexico Press, 1987), Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), Violent Legacies (Aperture, 1992), Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach (Bulfinch, 1996), The Sky Book (Arena Editions, 2000), and the recently published Richard Misrach: Golden Gate (Arena Editions, 2001). Misrach is the recipient of four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the PEN Literary Award, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, among others, and most recently the 2002 German Kulturpreis for lifetime achievement in photography.

Weston Naef has been Curator of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum since 1984, and the author of several books related to the exhibitions, among them Era of Exploration (Little Brown), The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz (Oxford University Press), and The Truthful Lens (with Lucien Goldschmidt, University of Virginia Press). He is also the general editor of the "In Focus" series of monographs.

Navjotika Kumar received her Masters Degree in Art History from the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University, where she is currently working on her doctorate with Hal Foster.