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Laura Letinsky

Still life photographer Laura Letinsky uses the dining table as a focal point, assembling objects and food in minimalist, altar-like arrangements. Influenced by seventeenth-century Dutch-Flemish still life painting, her work always presents a sense of “after the fact.” Her images are not of a dinner party in full swing but rather the aftermath and detritus of a memorable gathering. Objects and food are not always recognizable, but there is a definite sense of what was, as if from an archaeological dig. With the table as the foundation, almost like a canvas, we witness scenes from the morning after. Letinsky’s more recent work moves away from a literal portrayal of the table into images that play with space and dimension. With this shift, she incorporates paper cutouts of professionally photographed food and tableware from lifestyle magazines. Combining three-dimensional forms with two-dimensional spaces, Letinsky’s work gives the viewer an uneasy sense, as if the floor were tilted and what you see might just slide off the surface. Of her III Form and Void Full series, from which this work comes, she said, “Making this work is for me about building a world I can live—believe—in, and living—believing—in a world I can build. It’s ‘all I got…(but it’s a lot),’ to quote some inane pop song from the ‘70s.”

Letinsky was born in Canada and was educated at the University of Manitoba and Yale University. She currently teaches visual arts at the University of Chicago. She has exhibited her work at many venues, including the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Her piece Untitled #55 (vases), 2014, was a part of the 2016 (Infra) Structure exhibition at Lannan Foundation.