Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Blue Room – Eugene Richards (Phaidon 2008)

For many years Eugene Richards has brilliantly combined the raw emotionalism generally only seen in war photography with the formalism seen in museum art. In "The Blue Room", Richards is working in color. Even though this is his first book in color, it has the look of somebody who has worked in color for a very long time and now works with it as naturally as breathing.

These photographs were taken on a series of road trips thru small communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming between May 2004 and October 2007. There are lots of abandoned houses. Some of it was financed by assignments with National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine.

This book is filled with so much sadness. Richards may be the strongest American documentary photographer since Eugene Smith. I feel like I am seeing this odd synthesis of many of the things I like in William Eggleston’s photographs and James Nachtwey’s photographs.


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