William Richards

William Richards (1917-2004) produced one-of-a-kind chromogenic process color photographs between the 1950’s and the 1980’s. His collection of luminous prints was discovered posthumously.

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Selected Works

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In the Mad Men era of advertising, William Richards worked by day as a creative director in his native Cleveland, Ohio, winning awards for the work he produced for clients. By night, Richards would descend to his basement, where he had built a darkroom to focus on his personal projects: luminous abstract photographs.

Abstract photography’s origins date back to the early 1910’s, with artists like Alvin Langdon Coburn pulling from the tenets of Cubism, aiming to recreate them photographically. In the following decades, artists also began experimenting with photograms, cameraless processes that had first been developed in the late 19th century but were expanded upon by the likes of László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray.

An explosion of cameraless techniques soon followed, from chemigrams, to luminograms, to radiographs. By the 1950’s, when Richards began creating his chromogenic prints, the worlds of both abstract and cameraless photography had reached a boom, and Richards created a hybridization of both, capturing reflections on chromed metal and using various lights and gels to imbue the reflections with kaleidoscopic colors.

Richards never gained the prominence his work deserved during his lifetime; his collection of photographs was discovered posthumously, and is now collected by The Cleveland Museum of Art.