Richard Learoyd (Nelson, Lancashire, United Kingdom, 1966) is today one of the most well-known contemporary photographers. Learoyd’s oeuvre is rooted in the past and contains multiple references to the history of painting, as regards subject matter and technique. Both his black-and-white photographs and his works in colour are the result of a traditional process that often involves the use of a darkroom he himself has constructed.
Richard Learoyd’s career is distinguished by the unique photographic works that he has been making for over a decade, generally portraits of models—clothed or nude—taken in his studio. Yet he has also explored other themes, such as dark mirrors or animal and landscape photography, all of which are treated as seriously and considerately as his portraits. Many of the animals he depicts are no longer alive and are caught up in pieces of wire or tightened by threads in order to be examined. Unlike the usual material that makes up still life compositions, these are experiments, often playful, made with both ordinary and unfamiliar objects. The mirrors are perhaps the most abstract motifs, resembling deep outer-space constellations. Learoyd has recently made large-scale black-and-white pictures and has even begun to take his huge camera outdoors to photograph landscapes and old buildings he has discovered in small Eastern European towns. In some cases he revisits the same place several times to photograph it at different seasons of the year.
This exhibition presents Richard Learoyd at the peak of his career, exemplified by a selection of 51 photographs in colour and black-and-white that sum up his work of a decade. The show also includes one of the landscape photographs he took in Spain (to be precise, on the island of Lanzarote), commissioned by the Fundación MAPFRE and now in our Photography Collection, along with two earlier works by the artist.
His oeuvre was displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London in 2015 and at The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 2016. At present, his photographs enhance the permanent collections of important international museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the V&A Museum and the Tate Gallery in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and numerous private collections.
Sala Fundación MAPFRE
Casa Garriga i Nogués
Calle Diputació, 250
Barcelona | Spain
Richard Learoyda, After Ingres, 2011. Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco. © Richard Learoyd. Courtesy of the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.