Santiago’s Museo de Bellas Artes has announced a grand retrospective on the career of Chile’s most celebrated photographer of all time, Sergio Larraín, who passed away in February this year at the age of 81.
In making the announcement, the director of the fine arts museum, Roberto Farriol, described the show as “a milestone for the history of photography in this country.” The retrospective will be accompanied by a book, compiling the best of Larraín’s works.
The event is expected to shed light on a man whose story became shrouded in myth – even during his lifetime.
Larraín made a name for himself exploring themes of social justice, capturing scenes of daily life among the poor and dispossessed.
In one of his most celebrated series, “Valparaíso,” he dissected life in the port city during the 60s, delving into its seedier underbelly in a way that also captured the beauty and humanity of the people that inhabited it.
Later in his career Larraín was accepted into the prestigious Magnum Photo cooperative after completing a challenge of photographing the elusive mafia boss Giuseppe Russo. Entry into the international collective gave him the leverage to photograph some of the great personalities of his time, such as Pelé and Pablo Neruda.
But despite his reputation, few everyday Chileans have had the chance to see his works. After retiring from photography, Larraín turned his back on that world and began pursuing another, more mystical path.
Retiring to Ovalle in the Coquimbo Region of Chile’s North, the former photographer turned recluse and instead sought to teach meditation and spiritualism. During his life, the photographer always rejected the idea of a retrospective.
That is set to change now, with his children giving their blessings to the exhibition, which is organized by Magnum Photos and curated by Agnés Sire, director of the Henri Cartier-Bresson foundation, which has its headquarters in Paris.
Perhaps for that reason the French will have the first opportunity to view the retrospective, when the works go on display in that country in July 2013.
The show will come to Santiago in March of 2014, and be open to the public for three months.