(Los Angeles, California, 1949 - )
Lives Berkeley, California
Richard Misrach has been documenting the impact of human presence on the American Southwest for more than four decades. Born in Los Angeles, Misrach graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in Psychology in 1971. He won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1973 for photographs of the street people of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue, published the following year as 'Telegraph, 3 A. M.' Misrach soon shifted to color photography and pioneered the use of large-scale prints beginning in the 1970s. At the end of that decade, Misrach began his most well-known project, the ongoing series titled Desert Cantos, which captures the American Southwest. Each canto explores a particular aspect of the desert environment, including desert fires, desert floods, nuclear test sites and dead animal pits. Misrach won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979 and three more National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1977, 1984 and 1992.
In the late 1990s, Misrach moved from a windowless artist’s studio to a house in the Berkeley hills. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from his front porch inspired the Golden Gate series, begun in1998. This series documents what Misrach describes as “these remarkable spectacles of atmosphere and light” which change “every day, every hour, every minute.” The following year he was commissioned by the Nature Conservancy to create Battleground Point (the twenty-fourth installment of the Desert Cantos), which documents the uncommon presence of water in the Nevada desert. Other series have focused on the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley fire, the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2001, the Akron Art Museum awarded Misrach the Knight Purchase Award for Photographic Media. The following year Misrach was awarded the Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography by the German Society of Photography. Misrach’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.