6 September – 20 October, 2012

Yancey Richardson Gallery


October 28, 2012 – March 24, 2013

Denver Art Museum

Reviewed and Written by Elisa Badii 


Laura Letinsky presents at Yancey Richardson gallery her new body of work—III Forms & Void Full (2010-2011)—until October 20th. The series debuted at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago earlier this year and a retrospective exhibition of her work, Still Life Photographs, 1997–2012, will open at the Denver Art Museum on October 28th.

The artist started to experiment with still lifes in the late 1990s as an inevitable consequence to the appreciation for the Dutch-Flemish and Italian vanitas tradition. She was intrigued by the possibilities offered by the genre and the opportunity to investigate the meaning of making a still life nowadays. She wasn’t interested in replicating reality but in exploring with the camera the relation between truth and evidence.

Perception is a major issue in the research and work of Laura Letinsky who calls illusions directly into question instead of trying to create believable illusions. Through her practice, she celebrates the shift that occurs the moment the camera gets involved in the process. The camera changes the visual experience; it transforms what we perceive with our eyes and turns it into something that looks similar but is intrinsically different.

Still life painting is Letinsky’s visual reference but rather than describing the grandeur of a meal that awaits to be enjoyed, the artist focuses on the “after-moment” as a metaphor of what remains, persists, what we can’t get rid of and what we can avoid. These scenes unfold from very well-thought-out aesthetic decisions that create a space that is intimate and beautiful at first glance. Although a closer look reveals details of decay that counteract a feeling of attraction and desire. Both contrasting impressions should reach and stay with the viewer.

With III Forms & Void Full the mutability of perception becomes the main focus. The new seriesis the result of the evolution of Laura Letinsky’s practice that took a new direction in 2009 when the artist started to incorporate reproductions from magazines into her compositions. The combination of her own or others’ photographs, collaged images, as well as real objects, arranged on multiple illusory and actual planes, confuses the viewer’s sense of space and the prospective.

In Untitled #3,for example, the reproduction of an orange, a slice of honeydew and a curling melon rind are placed next to the reproduction of a platter that has a real peach on top. The arrangement is then positioned on a piece of paper that is laid on top of a table against a wall. The dichotomy between real and illusory, flatness and dimensionality of the objects challenges the public.

I have been following Laura Letinsky’s work for a few years now. I have had one of her photographs hanging in the office for a long time. This new body of work, as much as the previous ones, is inevitably pleasing to the eyes with its delicate scenes graced with harmony and beauty. III Forms & Void Full, though, holds a much more palpable tension. These sculptural studies in light, and space reveal sophisticated architectures that engage our intellect and vision and, at the same time, play with the identity of the photographic medium itself.


Musée Magazine No. 4 - Connections

Juergen Teller "Irene im Wald" at The Journal Gallery