Throughout her career, Laura Letinsky has engaged with the fundamental question of what precisely constitutes a photograph. Investigating photography’s relationship with reality, Letinsky began by photographing people but shifted to focusing almost exclusively on objects in the form of the still life. Her large-scale, carefully crafted scenes often focus on the remnants of a meal or party, as she plays with ideas about perception and the transformative qualities of the photograph.
For one of her earlier, long-term series, Hardly More Than Ever (1997-2004), Letinsky arranged and photographed leftover food and used crockery, along with various objects such as vases or fruit bowls. Thinking of the photographs in this series as observations of overlooked or forgotten details and remnants of daily existence, Letinsky ultimately transforms this refuse into a subject worthy of close study - objects of real beauty. Her more recent series Ill Form & Void Full (2010-2014), explores the tension between material and image, as Letinsky extracts elements from already existing imagery in magazines of food and domestic wares, calling attention to the constructed nature of all photographs.
Letinsky was born in 1962 in Winnipeg, Canada. She received her BFA from the University of Manitoba in 1986, and MFA from Yale University’s School of Art in 1991. Letinsky has held teaching positions at a number of prestigious American colleges, and since 1994 she has been a Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Chicago.
Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at Mumbai Photography Festival, India; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Photographers Gallery, London; The Denver Art Museum; Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Renaissance Society, Chicago. Public collections featuring Letinsky’s work include Art Institute of Chicago; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Yale University Art Gallery.
Letinsky has received numerous awards, including the Canada Council International Residency (2014); Richard Driehaus Foundation Award (2003); Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2002); and the Guggenheim Fellowship Award (2000). Publications include Ill Form and Void Full, Radius Press, 2014; After All, Damiani, 2010; Hardly More Than Ever, Renaissance Society, 2004; and Venus Inferred, University of Chicago Press, 2000.