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Still-Life Secrets

Photographer and University of Chicago professor Laura Letinsky’s work often portrays the leftovers of life: Orange peels, dirty cups, crumpled napkins and a cantaloupe rotting next to a half-eaten lollipop are all photographed in pristine, soft lighting. “At first glance, the colors and the emptiness of the spaces in those pictures are very alluring, and they’re soft and they seem very gentle, and they draw you in,” explains Denver Art Museum photography curator Eric Paddock about the artist, who is in town for the debut of her show, titled Laura Letinsky: Still Life Photographs, 1997 — 2012.

But on closer examination, Letinsky’s photographs become even more enigmatic as details like the rotting fruit emerge, speaking to the passage of time and questioning assumptions about space and gravity. “Often in her pictures, there will be something that’s a little off balance, a little bit wonky, and that makes you stop and remember that you’re looking at a photograph, you’re not looking at the actual still life,” says Paddock. “That, then, brings all these questions about the difference between a photograph and the thing that it represents. And that’s often a thing that we take for granted when we’re looking at a newspaper photograph or home-decoration catalogues or travel magazines.”

The world-renowned artist and theorist will discuss her fascinating body of work at a special lecture tonight in the DAM’s Sharp Auditorium, 100 West 14th Ave Parkway, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.; her show will be on display through March 24. For lecture tickets, $8 to $18, visit or call 720-913-0130.
Wed., Jan. 23, 7-8:30 p.m., 2013


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