Richard Learoyd’s provocative images exhibited at Nelson-Atkins

Richard Learoyd, English (b. 1966). ‘Erika, 2005.’ Silver-dye bleach print, 60 5/8 × 50 13/16 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2009.6.76. © Richard Learoyd, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Contemporary English photographer Richard Learoyd, using a large camera obscura in his East London studio, creates figure studies, portraits and still lifes that are neither glamorous nor retouched, yet they exude serene power along with mesmerizing detail. “Richard Learoyd: In the Studio,” an exhibition organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, opens at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City on Feb. 10.

Learoyd will be in Kansas City and in conversation with Photography Curator April M. Watson in Atkins Auditorium on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m., sponsored by the Photography Society. Tickets are free and can be reserved at

The exhibition includes 18 large-scale color photographs and two artist’s books.

“Richard Learoyd is internationally recognized as one of the most compelling contemporary photographers of our time,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, CEO and director of the Nelson-Atkins. “His images convey both a psychological depth and a physical weight. We find in them the timeless qualities that make us human: strength, vulnerability, boredom, determination, confidence and shame.”

Learoyd’s process is as singular as the artist himself. Using a room-size camera obscura, which is a dark chamber fitted with a lens, he creates an upside-down image and exposes it on a large sheet of light-sensitive paper. He then feeds the paper into a color-processing machine attached to the camera. Since the resulting print is not enlarged from a negative, each photograph is unique and exceptionally sharp.