Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Richard Learoyd

Exactly one month left to see the Richard Learoyd show at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. Try not to miss it if you're anywhere near the area. For those with good or even short memories, Learoyd was number one in my Top Ten list of 2010 - singled out for invigorating at least three genres at once – cameraless (or more accurately film-less) photography, portraiture, and still life.

Working with a self-made camera that creates highly detailed near life-size images by projecting an image directly onto photographic paper without any interposing negative, Learoyd produces unique large scale prints unlike anything seen before. There is a tactility and a detail that makes the figures (and objects) seem like they will at any moment start breathing and walk right out of the frame.

Surprisingly (to me) for many years Learoyd was a commercial photographer - an area that somehow rarely produces top notch fine art photographers. You tend to pick a lane (or the lane picks you). At least that's been my experience over a very long period of looking of photographers' work. But Learoyd is the exception and proves that there is always someone doing something not only new but new and with integrity, substance, depth and meaning. The trick is to find them!

I know it gets a little tiring to constantly single out Fraenkel's shows, but they do them beautifully and most shows, including this one, have accompanying catalogs that are collectibles in their own right and well worth the money. ($45 for the Learoyd catalog.)

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