Chris McCaw

Chris McCaw, 2015
Chris McCaw: Sunburn
Publisher: Candela
Dimensions: 11.5 x 10.5 in.
Pages: 96
ISBN-13: 978-0-9845739-2-9
$ 500.00

Signed, Rare OOP




Sunburn is a collection of forty-three extraordinary images from American photographer Chris McCaw, with essays by Katherine Ware of the New Mexico Museum of Art and Allie Haeusslein of Pier 24 Photography. By constructing his own cameras – one camera weighing in at 125 pounds and large enough that it needs to be mounted on a garden cart – and exposing directly onto large expired gelatin silver papers for extended exposures, from several hours up to 24 hours, McCaw manages to coax highly controlled and delicate depictions of primeval landscapes and seascapes while at the same time allowing the sun, throughout its trajectory, to graphically sear its path across the surface of his prints, often cutting completely through the prints when the sun is at its strongest points.


McCaw has taken this notion of simultaneous creation / destruction and harnessed the resulting tension, working with the unpredictable process so elegantly that he manages a polished and highly crafted style but one which remains dependent upon the brute and visceral contribution of chance and light and the spin of the earth. And because he works directly with paper negatives, which are solarized by the prolonged exposures, each resulting image is unique, less like a photograph and more a three-dimensional object rendered using the sun as a reductive tool.


A significant aspect of what McCaw has done with this body of work is to create an intellectual bridge back to a time when astronomy was first being explored, when mystery was commonplace and it seemed primally essential to find our place in the greater cosmos. The message that McCaw has rendered here so beautifully is a fragile one, where the flattened dimensions we have come to expect from photography have been torn, revealing a fresh photographic understanding of energy which ignites an alchemical transformation of the traditional landscape.



Chris McCaw’s photography is represented in many notable public and private collections including: George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, Rochester, New York; Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, Texas; The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California. McCaw has also received a New Works Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation in 2008.

McCaw lives and works in San Francisco.