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The George Eastman Museum opens first museum retrospective of Eugene Richards's work
Eugene Richards (American, b. 1944). Peter’s Rock Church, Marianna, Arkansas, 2010. Chromogenic development print. Collection of Eugene Richards. © Eugene Richards.

ROCHESTER, NY.- Eugene Richards: The Run-On of Time, an exhibition co-organized by the George Eastman Museum and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, explores Eugene Richards’s career as a photojournalist and documentary photographer from 1968 to the present. The Run-On of Time is the first museum retrospective devoted to Richards’s work and opened at the George Eastman Museum on June 10. The exhibition remains on view through October 22.

For more than forty years, photographer Eugene Richards has explored complicated subjects such as racism, poverty, emergency medicine, drug addiction, cancer, family, aging, the effects of war and terrorism, and the depopulation of rural America. Until now, his work has been known primarily through international news and media outlets, for which he created images on assignment, or through books, wherein he delves into his subjects further using his photographs and first-person texts. Through 146 photographs, fifteen books, and selected moving image works, The Run-On of Time provides a fuller understanding of Richards’s career, demonstrating how his personal artistic vision draws on the legacies of W. Eugene Smith and Robert Frank to address the salient issues of our time.

“Eugene Richards is widely respected and internationally renowned for the integrity and power of his work, which is deeply informed by his dedication to socioeconomic issues,” said Lisa Hostetler, Curator in Charge of the Department of Photography, George Eastman Museum. “Through his photographs, writings, and moving image works, he confronts challenging subjects with an impassioned honesty that can be simultaneously controversial, lyrical, beautiful, and melancholy.”

The Run-On of Time presents photographs from all of Richards’s major bodies of work, including Dorchester Days (1978), a study of life in a south Boston neighborhood; Below the Line: Living Poor in America (1987), a documentation of urban and rural poverty; Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue (1994), an in-depth exploration of the social toll of drug use; and Stepping Through the Ashes (2002), pictures of New York in the days after September 11, 2001.

Richards’s most recent projects also are represented as part of the exhibition, with photographs from The Blue Room (2008), a poetic meditation on the displacement of rural America; A Procession of Them (2008), about his visits to psychiatric facilities around the world; War Is Personal (2010), consisting of empathetic yet unsparing portraits of individuals who experienced the Iraq War firsthand; and Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down (2014), a reconsideration of his first mature body of work in the Arkansas Delta.

“Richards’s great talent lies in his ability to create photographs with emotional immediacy that ground the overwhelming complexity of social issues in the lived, personal experiences of his subjects’ lives,” notes April M. Watson, Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins. “He cares for his subjects, and brings to our attention deeply human stories which might otherwise go unnoticed. Ultimately, Richards’s photographs reflect an integrity of practice that few photographers are able to achieve, let alone sustain for a lifetime.”

Co-curated by Lisa Hostetler and April M. Watson, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by each of the curators, published by the Hall Family Foundation in association with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the George Eastman Museum, distributed by Yale University Press. The exhibition will travel to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO, and will be on view there December 9, 2017–April 15, 2018.

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