A renowned landscape photographer, Richard Misrach is best known for his ongoing Desert Cantos series, which, in large part, has explored man’s impact on the desert stretches of the American West—bombed, burned, littered, flooded, and exploited. The subject of this photograph stands out within his larger body of work, as Misrach has typically avoided iconic natural sites such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite precisely because they have been skillfully and memorably recorded by so many photographers since the 19th century, ranging from Carleton Watkins to Ansel Adams.

Nonetheless, the work presented here sums up Misrach’s long-standing concerns about the despoliation of the land. Yosemite has been thought of as a type of Eden since its discovery, a God-given virginal paradise; to view it through a landscape of burnt trees (whether the fire was natural or man-made) feels especially shocking and tragic, a sentiment underscored by the somber palette of subdued earth tones. This photograph is among a handful of early images that Misrach has chosen to revisit and print in large scale using technology that was not available when he took the photograph, a decision that increases the drama and the viewer’s sense of entering the scene.


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Artist
Richard Misrach, American, born 1949
Title
Yosemite (Burnt Forest & Half-Dome), California
Date
1988
Medium
Chromogenic print
Dimensions
Sheet: 59 1/2 × 79 3/16 in. (151.1 × 201.1 cm) Frame: 61 × 76 × 2 in. (154.9 × 193 × 5.1 cm)
Credit Line

Gift of the artist in honor of Anne Wilkes Tucker on the occasion of her retirement

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
2015.506
Classification
Photographs
Provenance

The artist; given to MFAH, 2015.