Laura Letinsky: Time’s Assignation, The Polaroids

  • Hardcover / 9.5 x 11.5 inches
    70 images / 180 pages

  • Photography by Laura Letinsky

    Essay by Nathalie Herschdorfer

  • ISBN: 9781942185222
  • Trade Edition: $55.00
  • Signed Edition: $60.00


The Polaroid, now anachronistic, is here conjoined with Laura Letinsky’s still life’s subject: the remains of appetites never entirely sated. This collection of black-and-white images was made in the studio from 1997 until 2008, when Type 55 film was discontinued. Akin to sketches, Letinsky’s work explores focus, composition, exposure, and most importantly, light itself, leading to her larger scale color works, for which she is best known. Small, slow, and raw, these pictures reveal a process of asking. This way or that? More or less? Now or then? Insistently beautiful in their decomposition, now stabilized, their high key tones slip into a white veil, with the darker tones metallized in hues of taupe, gold, and gunmetal gray. In their subject and materiality, these images bespeak of time’s rapid and unrelenting progression. Their black-and-white ravaged descriptions—coupled with their singularity and seriality—bespeak of the distance between having and wanting. These images are an homage to and lamentation of time’s passage as it is seemingly ensured and enshrined through the photograph’s exegesis.


After studying photography first in Canada at the University of Manitoba, then at Yale University’s School of Art, Laura Letinsky formed her ideas and work through a perspective that affords, perhaps insists upon, a kind of attention to the act of looking and of picturing. Recent exhibitions include: Neither Natural nor Necessary, Mumbai Photography Festival, Mumbai, India; Objecta, Giacomo Guidi Arte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy; Producing Subjects, MIT, Cambridge, MA; Ill Form and Void Full, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; and The Photographers’ Gallery, London; and Laura Letinsky: Still Life, Denver Art Museum. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hermes Collection, Microsoft Art Collection, Amon Carter Museum, The John Paul Getty Museum, The Musee de Beaux-Arts, Montreal, The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York represents her, and she shows with Galerie m Bochum in Bochum, Germany, and Joseph Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston, MA. A Professor at the University of Chicago since 1994, she’s also taught at the Yale University School of Art Summer Program, The University of Houston, and Bennington College. Grants and awards include the Canada Council International Residency, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, The Scotia Bank Photography Prize Short List, The Canada Council Project Grants, the Deutsche Bank Prize Nomination, The Anonymous Was a Woman Award, and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Publications include Ill Form and Void Full, Radius Books, 2014; Feast, Smart Museum of Art, UC Press, 2013; After All, Damiani, 2010; Hardly More Than Ever, Renaissance Society, 2004; Blink, Phaidon Press, 2002; and Venus Inferred, University of Chicago Press, 2000.


Nathalie Herschdorfer is a curator and art historian specializing in the history of photography. She is currently Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Le Locle, Switzerland. In 2010 she was named Director of the photography festival Alt. +1000 in Switzerland for which she curated two years of programming. She has also been working as a curator with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (FEP) for several years.