- Richard Learoyd
- Tatiana in Black Slip 2
- Ilfochrome photograph, unique
- 58 by 48 in. (147.3 by 122 cm.)
This luminous portrait exemplifies Richard Learoyd’s inimitable ability to render both his sitter’s physicality and emotions in ethereal, crystalline detail. At a distance, Learoyd’s photographs could easily be mistaken for photorealist paintings. He selects his subjects for their timelessness and they often exhibit radiant Victorian-era beauty. Unlike in paintings or in modern digital photography, however, Learoyd’s intense focus and narrow depth of field render images that do not become pixilated upon close inspection.
Learoyd creates his unique larger-than-life photographs by employing the pre-photographic technology of the camera obscura. Two rooms in Learoyd’s London studio are transformed into a camera: he seals one room from light completely, except for the aperture of his lens which, when opened, admits an inverted and laterally-reversed image of his sitter posed in the adjacent room onto an oversized sheet of cibachrome or ilfocrome paper tacked to the wall. The print is then immediately chemically treated and dried, a process which takes approximately 18 minutes. The resulting photographs, unique direct-camera images, show tremendous detail on a monumental scale.
Learoyd’s photographs were the subject of Richard Learoyd: Dark Mirror at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2015–16) and Richard Learoyd: In the Studio at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (2016-17). In addition to the aforementioned institutions, his photographs are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Tate, London; and Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid.