Sergio Larrain: London

Photographs by Sergio Larrain. Text by Roberto Bolaño and Agnès Sire.

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In this new edition of London, including previously unpublished photographs and visual references, Sergio Larrain presents a powerful portrait of a city on the brink of a new era.

In the winter of 1958, Sergio Larrain traveled to London. He spent just a few months there, photographing subjects that interested him and embracing the shadows of the city. In the cold and damp, his images captured a tangible darkness in which he could “materialize that world of phantoms.” A few years later, he joined Magnum Photos and set off around the world, before retiring to the Chilean countryside and leaving photography behind.

The book also features a text by the late Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño—written in 1999 specifically to accompany these images—as well as a new essay by Agnès Sire, artistic director of Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, detailing Larrain’s stay in London.


Format: Hardback
Number of pages: 176
Number of images: 94
Publication date: 2021-01-26
Measurements: 7.25 x 9.6 x 0.65 inches
ISBN: 9781597115001


“Larrain’s London photographs transport us, not so much to a city at a specific point in history, but to the liminal state in which it might have been perceived.” —Barry Schwabsky, Bookforum

“Studying the photographs of Sergio Larrain, I feel the freshness of discovery, the childlike excitement of seeing something mundane and reminding myself that the commonplace, if regarded from an uncommon angle, can be marvelously strange and beautiful.” —Arthur Lubow, New York Times

Photographs by Sergio Larrain. Text by Roberto Bolaño and Agnès Sire.

Sergio Larrain (1931–2012, born in Santiago, Chile) began taking photographs in the streets of Santiago and Valparaiso after studying at the University of California, Berkeley; the early purchase of two images by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, reassured him in his chosen profession. After presenting a project on los abandonados (street children in Santiago) to Henri Cartier-Bresson, he was invited to join Magnum Photos in 1960; around this time, he also began what would become a legendary project on Valparaiso with a text by poet Pablo Neruda. Unsure if he was suited to working for the press, Larrain retreated to the Chilean countryside, dedicating himself to yoga, meditation, and drawing until his death in 2012.
Roberto Bolaño, was a Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist, and one of the leading South American literary figures of the twentieth century.
Agnès Sire has served as director of Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris since its creation in 2003, where she oversees exhibitions and publications. Previously, she worked at Galerie Alexandre Iolas, and was art director at Magnum Photos in Paris.