Richard Misrach (b. 1949, Los Angeles) graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1971 with a BA in Psychology. The earth and its topography are pervasive in Misrach’s work. Although he often embraces seductive subject matter (unspoiled seascapes, dramatic sunsets) in homage to our planet’s beauty, Misrach maintains a critical position by also capturing evidence of humankind’s negative impact on the environment.
Misrach has made technical contributions to the field; in the 1970s he helped popularize the use of color photography and the now familiar largescale format. Early in his career Misrach began photographing the American Southwest, which he continued into the early 1990s. The resulting epic series “Desert Cantos” comprises 18 distinct but related groups of pictures that visually explore the complex conjunction between nature and culture. Otherworldly images of desert seas, rock formations, and clouds are juxtaposed with unsettling scenes of desert fires, nuclear test sites, and animal burial pits. Recent series include “Battleground Point,” a politically engaged project commissioned by the Nature Conservancy; “Golden Gate,” a careful study of times of day and weather around San Francisco’s famed bridge; “On the Beach,” aerial views of individuals and groups against a backdrop of water and sand; “Negative,” ravishing images of landscapes and seascapes in a reversed color spectrum; and “Petrochemical America,” an indepth examination of petrochemical pollution along the Mississippi River.