Londres 1959

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Editions Xavier Barral, 2020. First edition.
Hardcover, 185 x 245 cm, 176 pp., 95 b/w illustrations. Photographs by Sergio Larrain. Text by Agnès Sire, Roberto Bolaño (French).

This publication gathers Sergio Larrain’s photographs made during his stay in London during the 1958-1959 Winter including half of new images – not published in the first edition published by Hazan in 1998. A selection enlarged by the Chilean photographer himself. 

In London, Larrain constitutes his first important series during the four months of his residency supported by the British Council. Surprisingly, these photographs taken as he was wandering in the city have been scarcely reproduced in the press. An essay specially written by Roberto Bolaño for these images in 1998, shed light on the corpus.

Sergio Larrain (1931-2012) grew up in Chile in a family of cultivated notables, surrounded by books and art. From the outset, he took photographs freely in the streets with his Leica, which he did not hesitate to place on the ground, resulting in unusual points of view and daring compositions. From 1952, he focused on abandoned children in the streets of Santiago. The apprentice photograph presented his first complete series to Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1959. The latter recognised his talent, “his sense for composition and poetry” and invited him to join the Magnum agency. His international career as a photographer was an overnight success. He spent two years in Paris and produced many reportages for major magazines such as Paris Match and Life. His work also entered the collections of the MoMA.

He returned to Chile in 1963, where he undertook a long-term collaborative project with Pablo Neruda, now legendary, on the port city of Valparaiso. After many journeys, he became increasingly distrustful of the press and his desire for meditation led him to withdraw to the Chilean countryside in the 1980s. There, he devoted himself to yoga, writing and drawing. His photographic practice became limited to a few “satoris”.

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