Thursday, January 22, 2009

Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach Poster on a Chair in My House, 2009

Richard Misrach’s new pictures are gorgeous and strange. They admit of one conclusion, and one conclusion only. The man is a god.

But what sort of god? Is he an art god? A photography god? Or just a god of seduction, with cloven hooves, maybe, and a tail?

Misrach is certainly seductive, with a deep and refined intuition of the relationship between high art and what sells, and an uncanny ability to find the sweet spot between them.

And there’s no question he’s an exceptional photographer. Look at the light. What photographer wouldn’t kill for light that serene and clear?

But these new pictures are something very different. Photographic light? Color? Representation? All gone. In their place, Art. With a capital A. Art for art’s sake.

Photography for art’s sake.

They are of two basic types: dream landscapes and all over compositions. In between are some slightly pedestrian experiments in the transformation of colors, beautiful but perhaps not on the level of the others, which are transcendant.

All art calls to mind the work of other artists. What’s striking about Misrach’s new pictures is that the associations are painterly, not photographic: Tanguy, Pollock, and Rothko, among others.

Among photographers, the closest connection is probably to Man Ray, not just in technique but in the intent to create a new art form.

All in all, the most interesting photographs I’ve seen in a long time. At Fraenkel, until February 28.

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