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Life Arts

Richard Misrach – A Life of Fine Art, and Reportage and Protest Photography

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Richard Misrach’s life is a testament to fine art and reportage (and protest) photography; and he’s still only 60.  You may have missed my earlier OEN articles featuring Misrach.  They are here and here and here.

Biography: 

Born July 11, 1949, in Los Angeles, California; Received a BA in Psychology in 1971 from the University of California at Berkeley; presently living and working in Berkeley, California. 

Chronology: 

1963:  Attends University High School, Los Angles, California.  Interests include surfing and skiing. 

1968: While majoring in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, begins to show interest in fine art photography; Photographs some of the anti-war protests. 

1969: Takes a class with aerial photographer William Garnett 1972: Continues to study photography independently, after being rejected from San Francisco State graduate program. 

1973: Wins National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Telegraph Avenue documentary;
First group show, Places, at the San Francisco Art Institute.
 

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1974: Publishes Telegraph 3 A.M.: The Street People of Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley(Cornucopia Press) which receives a Western Book Award.

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Street Musicians, Berkeley, CA (1974)

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1975: Begins experimenting with night desert imagery. 

1976:  Ferguson Grant, Friends of Photography, Carmel, California. 

1977:  National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; John Szarkowski, photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art, purchases several of Misrach’s photographs for the upcoming group exhibition, Mirrors and Windows. 

1978:  Bell corporation commission for book and exhibition, American Images: New Work by Twenty Contemporary Photographers. 

1979:  John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship; Travels to Italy and Greece, taking night pictures of ancient Greek ruins. 

1981:  Marries Debra Bloomfield; A.I.G.A. Graphic Arts Award (for design of "Hawaii" poster). 

1982:  A fire at The Design Conspiracy photo lab in Oakland, California destroys nearly 4,000 negatives, which included early work for the 1983 Desert Canto XIII: The Inhabitants and Desert Canto XIV:The Visitors series. 

1983:  During a trip to Tucson, Arizona, Misrach becomes aware of the large military presence in the desert lands of Western United States. 

1984:  Contemporary Arts Forum Commission, "Focus, Santa Barbara"; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; Teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, California. 

1985:  Begins Desert Cantos VII: Desert Seas.

1986:  Establishes the Northern California Headquarters for Nuclear Disarmament, a hotline for information on anti-nuclear activities and news; Teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California. 

1987:  Philadelphia Museum of Art Commission; Refuses to participate in a centennial project for the city of Birmingham, Alabama after learning that all fellow participants are white males.  

1988:  DIA Art Foundation commission (to photograph Michael Heizer’s "The City"); International Center for Photography Infinity Award for Outstanding Publication of 1987 (Desert Cantos, University of New Mexico Press); TIME Magazine Cover Commission (July 4, 1988); New York Foundation for the Arts Commission, Paper for the Orcas Conference/Creative Support for the Creative Artist (November 1988); "Bucks and Ethics.”

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Princesses Against Plutonium in Utah (1988)

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1989:  Silver Medal Award at the International Book Design Exhibition for Desert Cantos, Leipzig, Germany; Marries journalist Myriam Weisang. 

1990: 

Teaches at California Institute for the Arts (Cal Arts), Valencia, California. 

1991:  Eureka Fellowship, Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco, California; Media Alliance Meritorious Award for Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West; PEN Literary Award for Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West. 

1992:  National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; Koret Israel Prize; Denver Art Museum Commission for the "Landscape as Metaphor" Exhibition. 

1994:  Distinguished Career in Photography Award, Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies.  

1995:  BBC-2 airs a documentary titled, "Dead West: The War on the American Desert," created by Bandung Limited.

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"Eat My Fallout," at Wendover Air Force Base, Utah (1988)

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1996:  Golden Light Award, Best Retrospective Book for Crimes and Splendors, Maine Photographic Workshops; Mid-career retrospective for cantos series opens at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas and tours around the country.  

1998:  Commission, “Picturing the South”, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Commission, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona. 

1999:  Commission, “The Last Best Place”, The Nature Conservancy.

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Hazardous Waste Containment Site, Dow Chemical Corporation, Mississippi River, Plaquemine, Louisiana (1998)

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2000:  Photo-eye Books Best Contemporary Monograph for 2000, runner-up, for The Sky Book 

2001:  Knight Purchase Award for Photographic Media, Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio. 

2002:  Environmental Messenger of the Year Award, Environmental Grantmakers' Association, New York, New York (first annual award); Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography, German Society of Photography. 

2008:  Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Arts Photography.

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And, six reportage or protest photographs, including one of a collage of Andy Warhol:

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On a Museum Wall in Phoenix, Arizona (1993)

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A Drive-In, in Las Vegas (1987)

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Desert Fire (1985)

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World's Fastest Mobile Home (96mph), Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah (1992)

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Environmental Protection Battleground Point #41 (1999)

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Playboy #38 (Warhol) (1990)

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(Courtesy of Frankel Gallery, Pace/MacGill Gallery, and Marc Selwyn Fine Art.   Also courtesy of artnet’s Artist Works Catalogues.   At its AWC, there is this: “artnet offers these catalogues free to the public as an educational resource. Simply click on an individual artist's image to begin, and check back often to browse new catalogues.”)  

 

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
 

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