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Press Release

The Blue Room

June 18 through July 25, 2009
Reception for the Artist, Thursday, July 18, 7 - 9 p.m.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present Eugene Richards: The Blue Room, in his first exhibition in Los Angeles.  In the tradition of the influential American social documentary photographers Walker Evans, Robert Frank, William Eggleston, and Robert Adams, Richards shows us a view of the disappearing cultural landscape and exposes the desolate beauty of once inhabited places from the middle of America. 

Richards spent three and a half years photographing abandoned houses and deserted farms throughout the center of America—from New Mexico to North Dakota.  He “has created a body of photographs that speaks of the beauty of these houses and inspires us to imagine the lives of the people who once lived in them” (The Blue Room).  He states, “as I slowly made my way through the collapsing rooms, I began sifting through what has been left behind… the old places spawn what can only be called memories that come and go in the fragments of broken glass, in the convergence of shadows of light, in the dust rising up from the floors”. 

“The Blue Room features a sequence of photographs that reveal the mystery and beauty of these poignant places, inspiring us to imagine the lives of the people who once lived there.  Family photographs are still stuck to a wall.  Kitchen curtains are still blowing in the wind.  Utensils are still waiting to be washed in the sink.  It’s a place where time stands still.” (Phaidon Press Release)

This exhibition comprises a selection of photographs from Richards’ recently released book, The Blue Room, published by Phaidon, 2008.  “His transition to color has produced a book that is a bit more dream and a bit less nightmare.  Yet, this shift is just a part of a greater change in Richards’ attention; from describing an overpoweringly raw moment, to slowly gazing at the deterioration of an unpeopled world, he works with a visual vocabulary of double images, radical cutting of the frame, and counterpoints of color to suggest psychological as well as sociological complexities.” (Dan Torop, Modern Painters, 2009)

Eugene Richards was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1944.  Following a degree in Photography and Journalism, he went on to study with American photographer Minor White.  Richards spent five years working as a social worker and reporter in eastern Arkansas, after which he published his first book, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta in 1973.  He has since then worked as a freelance editorial photographer for LIFE, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine.  His books include Dorchester Days (1978);Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue (1994); Stepping Through the Ashes (2002); and the The Fat Baby (2004), a collection of fifteen photographic essays.  Eugene Richards has been the recipient of numerous honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Journalism Award