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Richard Learoyd: Work from Two Rooms

Opening reception with artist: Thursday, October 25, 5:30-7:30pm

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present Richard Learoyd: Work from Two Rooms, on view from October 25 to December 22, 2018. This is the gallery’s fourth exhibition of the British artist’s work, featuring new large-scale landscapes photographed this summer in Yosemite and Big Sur. Learoyd uses a massive, tent-like camera of his own design to create minutely detailed black-and-white contact prints. Work from Two Rooms also includes intimate, one-of-a-kind color portraits and studies of flowers through their life cycle.

Learoyd’s landscapes were inspired in part by Carleton Watkins, whose 19th-century views of Yosemite gave rise to the 1864 bill protecting the valley, which then served as a blueprint for the foundation of the National Park Service in 1916. Watkins’ breakthrough work was made with the largest camera known to exist at the time: a mammoth plate camera producing contact-printed images measuring approximately 16×21 inches. More than 150 years later, Learoyd photographed the park using a structure measuring 8 feet square, creating 4×6-foot contact prints. Working this summer, Learoyd captured the grandeur of the valley two weeks before the Ferguson Fire burned nearly 100,000 acres in the area. The exhibition also includes two large-scale works made in Big Sur, a landscape with a rich history for photographers including Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and others.

Learoyd’s “extended” portraits were made in his London studio, where he uses a room-sized camera built to expose photographic paper directly to light. The resulting photographs—grainless, unique works on Ilfochrome paper, stockpiled before it was discontinued in 2011—explore subjects over repeated sittings, sometimes spanning years. Working in the studio, Learoyd notes, one learns “the qualities and restrictions of the process you have chosen. Making photographs with a large camera is incredibly restrictive.” The limitations, he says, “alter the way I think and feel about the things I choose to photograph.”

In 2019, Fundación MAPFRE in Barcelona will debut a traveling survey of Learoyd’s work, curated by Sandra S. Phillips. Previous solo museum exhibitions include Richard Learoyd: Dark Mirror, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2015), and Richard Learoyd: In the Studio, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2016) and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Kansas (2017).

Learoyd’s photographs are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate, London; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. In 2015, Aperture and Pier 24 Photography published Day for Night, a major monograph of Richard Learoyd’s work.