Sergio Larrain (1931-2012)

The Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain died on 7th February 2012. Some photographers seem to have a magical ability to create images that somehow create a connection to the ineffable. Larrain was one of those photographers. I have no idea why some photographs have this effect (the closest guess is that there is a ‘rightness’ in the juxtaposition of geometry and subject matter). It seems to have nothing to do with the camera itself, the sharpness of the image or the inherent beauty of the subject. It is also something that people disagree about.
One of many of Larrain’s photographs that seems to possess this quality is that of two girls going down some steps in Valparaíso, Chile, the photograph replete in shape and geometry. It is mentioned in his obituary in The Guardian:
Larrain recalled taking it “in a state of peace and utter serenity, just pursuing what at the time interested me most. Then, as if from nowhere, first one little girl appeared, shortly joined by another. It was more than perfect, it was a magical image.” Agnes Sire, for 20 years desk editor of Magnum (Paris), described it as taken in “not so much a decisive moment as in the state of spirit that he called a state of grace”.
The photograph, together with a number of others by Larrain, can be seen at the ‘el angel caido’ website.

Sergio Larrain, Valparaíso, Chile, 1957

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)

Like many, Philip Larkin is one of my favourite poets. His poem ‘Cut Grass’ evokes the English summer as well as anything I’ve read.

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale
Long, long the death
It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers
With hedges snowlike strewn
White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne’s lace
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer’s pace