"A good image is born from a state of grace"
- Sergio Larrain
Sergio Larrain (1931-2012) was born in Santiago de Chile, and left at age eighteen to study at the University of California, Berkeley. Upon his return to Chile, he began taking photographs in the streets of Santiago and Valparaiso; and the early purchase of two images by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, reassured him in his chosen profession. Impressed by Henri Cartier-Bresson's photographs, Larrain presented the photographer his work on Los Abandonados (street children in Santiago) during a trip to Europe. Cartier-Bresson then invited Larrain to join Magnum in 1960. It was around this time Larrain also began what would become a legendary project on Valparaiso, published with a text by poet Pablo Neruda.
A notoriously reclusive artist, Larrain has nonetheless become a touchstone for those who have come to know and love his work, including authors Roberto Bolaño and Julio Cortázar. Larrain's experimental process yielded images that transformed the fixed nature of the medium. His images have left generations of viewers in awe of the simultaneous serenity and spontaneity that a camera can capture when placed, that is, in the hands of an artist with such rare meditative passion.
Following a creatively fertile period in the 1950s and '60s, Larrain put away his camera and devoted himself to the solitary pursuit of spiritual mysticism, a decision that further contributed to his reputation as a romantic, a "fatal personage," in the words of Bolaño.