Wired: "Sweeping Aerial Shots of Spain Look Like Alien Terrain." January 28, 2016. Mallonee, Laura. "The surreal landscapes in David Maisel’s 'The Fall' don’t look like anything on earth. The ashen colors and strange geometry appear otherworldly, like the surface of a distant planet. But his unusual landscapes are aerial views of mining, agriculture and construction sites in central Spain."
The New Yorker: "David Maisel's Geometric Geographies." January 13, 2016. Bjornerud, Marcia. "David Maisel’s aerial photographs of Toledo, Spain, and the surrounding La Mancha region, some of which will be on view at Haines Gallery, in San Francisco, through March 12th, can make Earth’s surface look more alien than terrestrial. Parts of the area that Maisel focussed on are underlain by light-colored alkaline rocks, which formed through the evaporation of an ancient body of water. The silvery soil of plowed fields almost shimmers, like a ghostly memory of that long-vanished sea."
From themes of political suppression to mankind’s misuse of the land, a new Spark special from KQED highlights thought provoking work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and American photographer David Maisel.
Interview with Nathalie Fraser for Mixt(e) Magazine Numéro 13, September 2015 "With their square format, acid-bright colours or oneiric black and white, David Maisel’s works invite a kind of contemplation that turns into surprise and finally into shock. These apparently abstract compositions are in fact zones (lakes, mines, conurbations) on which man’s influence has played a radical role in transforming the original landscape. From the sky, perched in a Cessna plane, Maisel overlooks the land like a kind of deus ex machina, motivated both by the power of the image and by the desire to record this alternative American vision."
Juxtapoz "Ancient X-Rays." December 6th, 2014. Hodson, Canbra. "These objects that have existed for centuries take on a new romanticized quality in Maisel’s work and provide us with an often unseen glimpse into the artistic process that was involved to create them."
At the end of 2013, photographer David Maisel was commissioned to photograph the city of Toledo, Spain, as part of a group exhibition called ToledoContemporánea, timed for a wider celebration of the 400th birthday of the painter El Greco. Maisel's photos offered a kind of aerial portraiture of the city, including its labyrinthine knots of rooftops. But the core of the project consists of disorientingly off-kilter, almost axonometric shots of the city's historic architecture.
Exhibition Review: The New Yorker, Goings On About Town: Art. May 5, 2014. Aletti, Vince. “A cache of X-rays of antique statuary from the archives of the Getty Museum provided Maisel with the ghostly imagery for his handsome new photographs. Isolated against pitch-black backgrounds, Buddha heads, a horse, a young warrior, and several classical maidens appear at once hollowed out and full of surprises…”
“David Maisel's Photographs Of Open Pit Mines are Eerily Beautiful.”September 13, 2013. Brooks, Katherine. “At first glance David Maisel’s gorgeous photographs seem to celebrate the natural beauty of an otherworldly landscape. With bold blues and expressive reds, the images appear to capture unchartered river formations and mystical mountain passes that couldn't possibly belong to Earth. But Maisel's photographs are not celebrating the natural beauty of another planet. His various series illuminate the strangely magnificent aerial appearance of environmentally impacted sites in the United States. He focuses on lands that have been transformed by water reclamation, logging, military tests and mining, producing overwhelmingly stunning artworks that ultimately depict spoiled, desecrated beauty.”
David Maisel’s two aerial photography series The Lake Project (2001 – 2002) and Oblivion (2004) explore respectively the landscapes of Owens Lake and the Los Angeles metropolis. Owens Lake, a mostly dry glacial lake some two hundred miles to the northeast of Los Angeles on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, was drained throughout the 20th Century to supply water to the ever-growing Los Angeles megalopolis. The desiccated Owens Lake, transformed through the immensity of water diversion projects that fed the Los Angeles Aqueduct, has become the largest toxic dust site in the United States and remains so, even with the more recent partial restoration of water flow to the site in an attempt to mitigate its toxicity.
“David Maisel and the Apocalyptic Sublime.” August 9, 2013. Poynor, Rick. “The aerial photographs of David Maisel are often deeply disorientating. His pictures are visions of the Earth as we have never seen it and they are scarcely believable at times in their beauty and terror.”
Cabinet Magazine, Issue 50, Summer 2013. American Mine portfolio published, with writer Geoff Manaugh's essay Infinite Exchange: "Vast terraced bowls step down—and down and, impossibly, further down—tracking dead faults and mineralization fronts on a scale only made clear when we notice 16-ton trucks like specks of dust on canyon walls. Discolored oceans of chemical runoff wash across vehicle tracks with acid tides. Retaining walls and stabilized slopes loom over assembled superscapes of mine detritus, abandoned shells of industrial insects dwarfed by the world they’ve helped create...These mines grow in great metastasizing voids, like storm fronts of negative space exploding with slow thunder into the planet."
Explore David Maisel’s Black Maps The American photographer David Maisel photographs the brutal interference of humans in the natural world.
“Beauty And Blight, Sharing Common Ground.” Monograph Review of Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime. May 24, 2013. “This eye-opening survey of the photographer David Maisel’s major aerial projects reveals the terrible beauty of the industrial age. Photo after photo unveils the common, human-created cancers forced upon on our landscapes: open-pit mines, hazardous waste sites, nerve-gas depots, the desolation of Los Angeles. These photos tell tales the way scars tell the story of a body — and who knew that poisons could be so seductively iridescent? Black Maps, rather than focusing on the death of beauty, wrestles with the beauty of death.”
“Pillaged Earth.” May 10, 2013. “These impressive aerial photographs are the work of David Maisel, who specializes in taking large-scaled, otherworldly pictures of natural terrain that has been modified by human intervention such as mining for valuable natural resources. Maisel has photographed such areas of environmental degradation for almost 30 years. Wherever he goes he hires a local pilot and a small plane to take him up anywhere from 500 to 11,000 feet in altitude where he can take his pictures."
“A Shocking Look at America's Altered Landscapes.” May 10, 2013. Coppelman, Alyssa. “There is an overwhelming sense of disbelief when looking at David Maisel’s aerial photographs of open-pit mines, toxic waste sites, logging, freeways and other scenes that mark the toll humans have left on earth.”
“The Strange Beauty of David Maisel's Aerial Photographs.” April 26, 2013. Gambino, Megan. “For almost 30 years, David Maisel has been photographing areas of environmental degradation. He hires a local pilot to take him up in a four-seater Cessna, a type of plane he likens to an old Volkswagen beetle with wings, and then, anywhere from 500 to 11,000 feet in altitude, he cues the pilot to bank the plane. With a window propped open, Maisel snaps photographs of the clear-cut forests, strip mines or evaporation ponds below.”
“David Maisel: Black Maps.” Feature and interview. Issue 183. April – May 2013. Kouwenhoven, Bill. “For more than 25 years, David Maisel has looked down upon the American landscape and found shapes and forms that are hauntingly beautiful, yet which also speak to the devastating changes wrought by man’s progress and pursuit of profit at the expense of nature.”
Exhibition Review: “Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime.” March 28, 2013. Stimilli, Davide. “The prospect the viewer is asked to share, and the proper standard by which to measure Maisel's vision, in other words, is no longer the all-too-human bird's-eye view, but the god's-eye view of Wallace Stevens’ necessary angel, who has inspired Maisel's work from its inception, as we learn from the magnificent volume that has been released in conjunction with the exhibition. The paradoxical title of both exhibition and book is borrowed, on the other hand, from another American poet, Mark Strand, while the category "apocalyptic sublime" is used to refer to Maisel's images in their subtitle and in a number of the informative and insightful essays in the book.”
LightBox. “Uncharted Territories: Black Maps by David Maisel.” March 27, 2013. Moakley, Paul. "The allure of the American West has captivated photographers since the earliest days of the medium. Photography was used as a tool to decipher the vastness of the new and unknown frontier. One can see a rich photographic form of manifest destiny stemming from pioneering documentarians like Timothy O’Sullivan in the 1800s to preservationists like Ansel Adams in the 1960s. Although the intentions of these photographers have shifted over time, the landscape has provided consistent inspiration for our deepest desires. In more recent history, our concerns about our footprint on the environment have led photographers to investigate deeper than what’s easily accessible."
Subverted is a group exhibition with artworks by Edward Burtynsky (Ontario, Canada, 1955), David Maisel (New York, USA, 1961), Nuno Ramos (São Paulo, Brasil, 1960) and Carlo Valsecchi (Brescia, Itay, 1965). The show throws a spotlight on the rapport between man and Nature, a relationship whose dynamic has been radically altered over the last few decades.
“Mysteries and Truths in Black and White.” Review of History's Shadow Publication. January 13, 2012. In History’s Shadow, it seems as if David Maisel is reviving the once-dormant souls of inanimate objects, if not those of their makers. To alchemize these beautiful but disturbing images, Mr. Maisel rephotographed and manipulated conservation X-rays of three dimensional objects from two California museums. In so doing, he’s conjured revenants – of masks, sculpures, bowls – that, he says, represent a confluence of art, time, and technology. These images “make the invisible visible” and “express the shape-shifting nature of time itself,” Mr. Maisel writes in the afterward to the book, which includes a new short story in the tradition of Borges by Jonathan Lethem.
Sunday Review, “The Heart of the Art.” Review of History's Shadow Publication. October 2, 2011. "During a residency at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles several years ago, I began to think about images that were created in the course of art preservation, where the realms of visual art and scientific research overlap."
“David Maisel: Mining Territories of the Apocalyptic Sublime," January, 2011. Best, David. “On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted with apocalyptic power. It's almost impossible to picture complete devestation on this scale. It was alos impossible for California photographer David Maisel, then a college undergraduate, to resist the temptaion to visit a few years later to survey the uncountable fallen trees, and hear the impossible silence of the post-eruption panoramas. He photographed the aftermath with his mentor, Emmet Gowin, documenting this Dantean scene of destruction.”
“Seeing Inside Buddha,” History's Shadow. December, 2010. Robertson, Rebecca. “Photographer David Maisel was taking pictures in the Getty Center's art conservation labs when he suddenly noticed a 12-foot-high X-ray of a painting that was taped to a window and lit from behind by the sun. Nearby was a small, drab landscape painting on which the X-ray was based.”
“Works in Progress,” History's Shadow. October, 2010. “When Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen took the first-ever x-ray image in in 1895, he used his wife's has as a subject. 'I have seen my death!' she exclaimed when she saw the ghostly results, face-to-face with what usually stays hidden until our bodies decompose.”
For over twenty years the Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital stored the cremated remains of patients in copper containers. Photographer David Maisel found them, and shows the beautiful — and bizarre — chemical reactions that took place as the canisters corroded in his exhibit "Library of Dust," currently at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside. Produced by Sarah Lilley.
David Maisel was born in New York City in 1961 and now lives and works in the San Francisco area. His photographs, multi-media projects, and public installations have been exhibited internationally, and are included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. His work has been the subject of three monographs: The Lake Project (Nazraeli Press, 2004), Oblivion (Nazraeli Press, 2006), and Library of Dust (Chronicle Books, 2008). A portfolio of Maisel's work is also available in Daylight Issue #3.
Review of solo exhibit “Library of Dust” at the Von Lintel Gallery. February 15, 2010. Aletti, Vince. "The subjects of Maisel's enormous new color photographs appear to be corroded tin cans, shot against pitch-black backdrops and lit like precious objects."
Maria Popova writes about Library of Dust for Brain Pickings. "Maisel photographed many of the 3,500 canisters with incredible detail, their multicolor blooming corrosion reminiscent of nature’s wonders like vibrant sunset skies or rich bedrock textures or the aurora borealis." "Poignant, poetic and just the right amount of unsettling, Library of Dust is the kind of project that will give you pause as you find in its physical splendor an existential meditation on the metaphysical."
Photographer David Maisel discusses the strange urns of The Library of Dust in FLYP's short video documentary.
“Dust Collector.” April 16, 2009. Hultkrans, Andrew. “Rarely are cultural events so fortuitously mirrored by their venues as Monday’s group reading in honor of Library of Dust, David Maisel’s recent book of photographs of psychedelically corroded copper canisters encasing the ashes of unclaimed Oregon lunatics. Inside the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts on Norfolk Street, formerly one of the oldest synagogues in New York, the images—hung on the cobalt-blue peeled-paint walls and projected on-screen behind the altarlike stage—seemed to have always been there, matching their surroundings in hue and vibe, twin testaments to the stubborn efflorescence of decay. Sponsored by the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, the long, contemplative event applied layers of interpretation to the work as varied, inconsistent, and occasionally brilliant as the corrosion adorning the canisters. In tribute to the mental hospital’s nameless dead—whose identifying labels have been obscured by time—I will efface some of the thirteen participants.”
“Ashes to Art in Library of Dust.” January 8, 2009. Walt, Vivienne. “Californian photographer David Maisel has spent years shooting the blighted landscapes around America's copper mines. No surprise, then, that in 2005 he was immediately intrigued when he read a small news item describing the efforts of the Oregon State Hospital to move the cremated remains of thousands of psychiatric patients who had died between 1913 and 1971. The article hardly suggested an art treasure — except to Maisel, who noticed that the remains were stored in copper canisters, which he guessed had probably turned to dazzling colors over the decades.”
“Strange beauty, transformation, secrets and loss.” January 4, 2009. Ollman, Leah. "David Maisel's portraits of canisters holding cremated remains creat an unusual memorial to lives set on a shelf and forgotten."
“Gifts Worth Buying a Coffee Table For.” November 28, 2008. "Library of Dust, from the photographer David Maisel, may well be this year's most haunting book of images."
“Kept in the Dark.” October, 2008. Robertson, Rebecca. "Since being placed in an underground vault at the Oregon State Hospital in the mid-1970s, some 3,500 canisters have experienced surprising transformations."
“David Maisel's Library of Dust.” Fall, 2008. Lang, Karen. "Library of Dust is comprised of 100 C-print photographs. These photographs are human scale. (They measure 64 x 48 inches.) Aligned along the wall, they confront me with their beauty, and their insistence. They depict a single subject: copper canisters containing the individual ashes (the dust) of mentally ill patients of Oregon State Hospital who were cremated, beginning in 1913, and unclaimed, since then."
“What Remains.” October 29, 2008. Houghton, Max. "Inside these copper urns, sprouting technicolor minerals, lie the cremated remains of the former patients of a mental asylum."
“Return to the Source.” July 12/13, 2008. Hodgson, Francis. "American photographer David Maisel, 47, has been working since 2001 on a series entitled "Black Maps," creating abstract aerial photographs of environmentally damaged landscapes."
Review of “Dark Matters” at the Yerba Buena Center for the arts. Spring, 2008. Gluck, Robert. David Maisel's 2005-07 series Library or Dust shows eroding storage canisters, discovered in a closed Psychiatric hospital which hold the unclaimed ashes of cremated patients. Such strange abandonment renders a sense of displacement, which is supported by the violently gorgeous colors of oxidation that bloom across the cans. Does this beauty mean we should look at these strange funerary urns? Are they memorial sculptures framed by art and given an audience? Or do we intervene by rejecting the idea that they "stand for" anyone's life?
“Danger Zones” January 2008. Gambino, Megan. "David Maisel doesn't consider himself an environmental activist. Yet his large-scale aerial photographs of strip mines, a bone-dry lake bed and manmade evaporation ponds can be viewed as indictments of our indifference to the planet that sustains us. Once you figure them out , that is. The photographs call to mind everything from blood vessels to stained-glass windows. "They might be mirrors into who we are as a society and who we arc in our psyches," Maisel says."
“Tapping Topography: An interview with David Maisel,” June, 2007. Grande, John. "Mining the aesthetic territory of the apocalyptic sublime, and addressing themes of loss, elegy, and memorialization, Black Maps, David Maisel's aerial-photography project, captures the world of nature as it is being undone as a result of extensive intervention in the environment."
Aerial photographer David Maisel shoots environmental messes -- like cyanide leaching fields and dried-out lakes. But his color prints are big, gorgeous, and mysterious. Maisel talks about his pictures of Los Angeles, just published in the book Oblivion, and how he seduces and betrays viewers at the same time. Produced by Trey Kay.
Review of solo exhibit “Oblivion” at the Von Lintel Gallery. March, 2007. Landi, Ann. "Since 1983, when he helped his mentor Emmit Gowin photograph the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, David Maisel has trained his camera on the strange-and frequently gorgeous devastation wrought on the American landscape by environmental tampering."
“Readings,” reproduction of Terminal Mirage 261-12. February, 2007. "Terminal Mirage #261-12 by David Maisel, whose work was on display last year at Von Lintel Gallery, in New York City."
I have long been fascinated by the photography of David Maisel. Often, when people who don’t know much about fine-art photography joke around about what they think it is (can you guess?), I show them David’s website. Once they’re hooked to the beauty of the images, I tell them what they’re really looking at, and that never fails to work. However, I have always felt a little bit uncomfortable about admiring beautiful images of things that are quite disastrous, so I asked David whether he would talk about this with me.
“Photo Synthesis,” reproduction of Oblivion 1382-52p. January 28, 2007. Westerbeck, Colin. There’s nothing like a good education to give you a unique perspective on the world. David Maisel graduated from Princeton summa cum laude in 1984, so it’s not surprising that his work is brainy. He’s aware that we live in a time when the economies are global, ideologies are not just political but geopolitical, science can look back beyond Noah’s ark to the Big Bang, and nature itself is in danger of being extinguished.
“The Roads Ahead, Scary and Serene.” Review of solo exhibit “Oblivion” at the Von Lintel Gallery. December 14, 2006. Gelber, Eric. "Photographer David Maisel also deals with the ways in which humans have transformed the natural world. His current exhibition at the Von Lintel Gallery includes images from the "Terminal Mirage " and "Oblivion" series, including disorienting aerial views of the Great Salt Lake and Los Angeles."
Review of solo exhibit “Oblivion” at the Von Lintel Gallery. December 11, 2006. Aletti, Vince. "The color photographs in Maisel's recent exhibitions were aerial views of an alien American landscape: industrial and agricultural sites rendered nearly unrecognizable by toxic waste and other environmental damage. His fine new work is on more familiar territory-the city of Los Angeles but it still looks like another, much more forbidding planet."
“Human Ash Reactions.” Vol 86, Fall 2006. Manaugh, Geoff. "A friend of mine once pointed out that an imaginative reader can trace the rudiments of William Blake's literary cosmology back to his acidic and physical printmaking process. In other words, the reverse-engraved, anti-metallic incisions that Blake literally burned into copper plates lent a great deal of their intensity to his elemental writings on heaven and hell. The process of engraving, in this view, served both to influence and to enact, on a chemical level, the fiery theology that Blake described. I was reminded of this while looking at the photographs of David Maisel."
“Library of Dust.” November-December, 2006 Hanus, Julie. "The hospital is decaying. Crumbled plaster rests as rubble on linoleum floors that have burst at the seams, succumbing to the pressure of a buckling foundation. Yielding paint sloughs from the walls. Evidence of patients once treated here lies scattered—a deck of cards, a sodden book, a rusted razor blade. It seems impossible that the heart of this institution still functions, that somewhere at the end of a long corridor doctors and nurses still practice medicine. In these deserted wings, part of the Oregon State Insane Asylum as it stood in 1883, the only hint of life is a collection of crude copper urns that house the cremated remains of those who died here—thousands of patients treated over a century’s time—stacked three deep on plain wooden shelves."
In his own words, David has a “fascination with the undoing of the landscape.” He has become most widely known for his aerial work, which includes extended studies of North American mines, clear-cut forests, urban sprawl, evaporation ponds and other peripheral industries of the Great Salt Lake.
“The New Global Photographers.” March-April, 2006. Rexer, Lyle. "We're up in an airplane over Mexico City with Melanie Smith, who is showing photographs and video of the vast smoggy sprawl that stretches to the horizon. The view is vertiginous, terrifying. We are at Guantanamo Bay with Jason Oddy, photographing the barbed-wire and chain-link fences that divide freedom from its enemies. We're in China with Edward Burtynsky, watching a new world take shape literally overnight in factories, shipyards, urban construction sites. We're inside the corporate boardrooms of global capitalism with Jacqueline Hassink, photographing the furniture as a clue to the organization of power and its presentation."
“Images from above encourage viewers to look within.” Review of solo exhibit of “Terminal Mirage” at the Miller Block Gallery. October 7, 2005. McQuaid, Cate. "Aerial photographer David Maisel shows us landscapes we cannot see from our vantage point on earth. They're humbling in the same way as gazing at a night sky and recognizing the vastness of the universe. In Maisel's case, some of the strange and disturbing images he portrays are wrought by humanity, and he's asking us to sit up and take notice."
“Eye Witness; David Maisel’s Black Maps.”October, 2005. Cunningham, Caroline. "The aerial perspective helped him draw the parallel between the havoc caused by a volcanic eruption and that by human industry, and set him on his course of recording the aftermath of human destruction. Maisel views his sites - devastated forests, abandoned coal mines, barren lake beds-from a low-flying Cessna, and photographs them at an angle to avoid the horizon line. The elevated viewpoint creates a sense of physical suspension; the acrid colors and complex forms increase our unease."
“Oblivion,” 8-page feature on Maisel’s aerial series on Los Angeles. September, 2005. "For more than 20 years photographer David Maisel has shot aerial landscapes with an eye on documenting the environmental impact of human development."
“About the Cover; David Maisel’s Terminal Mirage.” May/June 2005. Rexer, Lyle. "When Carleton Watkins made his photographs of gravel quarries, mining operations, and sawmills in the 1860s, America was a larger place, and these interruptions of a previously pristine nature were confirming signs of a great errand into the wilderness. when photographer David Maisel flew over Mt St Helens in 1983, several years after its eruption, with his teacher Emmet Gowin, he must have felt Watkins' awe in the face of nature's shaping power. But the sense of celebration soon yielded to horror, fascination, and fear. The more time Maisel spent aloft, the more his view revealed that what seemed to be the signs of successful enterprise had become vast scars, of open-pit mines, polluted lakes, and military test sites. Maisel set out to document this manmade devastation from the air In a decades-long project he calls Black Maps. Maisel is among a group of American photographers- including Edward Burtynsky and Richard Misrach- who have made their art careers out of environmental catastrophe."
“The Top 25 Photo Books of 2004.” January 24,2005. Aletti, Vince.
“To the Ends of the Earth,” Cover image by David Maisel. October 2004. Crump, James. "In its nascency, aerial photography held out the potential for use in the surveillance of specific sites and territories. David Maisel has for the last 20 years been photographing the locations of tailing ponds and former lakes, creating luminous abstractions noteworthy for their super-saturated colour. His most recent series, collected in the book The Lake Project (2004), reveals amorphous details of California Lake beds, polluted from mining, development and agriculture, or dried up due to the notorious mismanagement of water in Southern California. These vertiginous pictures bring to mind Adam Fuss's trippy photograms of rabbit entrails and cow liver, and they also possess a disturbing science-fiction quality, as if civilisation were on the brink of extinction."
“Terminal Mirage,” feature. Volume 10; Fall 2004.
“Oblivion,” essay by David Maisel with 8 pages of his aerial images. Fall 2004. Back cover image by David Maisel. "In his book Warped Space, the architectural theorist Anthony Vidler speaks of the "paranoiac space of modernism," a space which is "mutated into a realm of panic, where all limits and boundaries become blurred..." These words come to mind when considering the urban aerial images of Los Angeles and its periphery shown here, excerpted from my photographic project called 'Oblivion.'"
Cover and six-page feature on “Terminal Mirage.” Volume 25, summer 2004. "Although these photographs evidence the extreme transformation of the lake, they also transcribe interior, psychic landscapes that are profoundly disturbing. As otherworldly as the images may seem, they depict a shattered reality of our own making."
“Hell from the Air: Turning the Owens Valley into Environmental Art.” biographical essay, May 9, 2004. Wallach, Amei. "In Mr.Maisel's photos, the vistas are majestic, terrifying and weirdly beautiful. They seem more intimate than microscopic data, vaster than extraterrestrial space. They are on view at the James Nicholson Gallery in San Francisco and have just been published in "David Maisel: The Lake Project," by Nazraeli Press."
Review of “The Lake Project” solo exhibit at James Nicholson Gallery. May, 2004. Bing, Alison. "If the striking colors of David Maisel's "The Lake Project" aerial landscapes seem unnaturally brilliant, that's because they are. The pools of purple, swaths of red and sudden streaks of orange Maisel has captured from high above eastern California's Owens Valley are the remaining mineral traces of an originally 200-square-mile lake, drained long ago to slake the thirst Los Angeles worked up as it huffed, puffed, sweated and sprawled into existence."
“Ghost Lake.” Six page essay of images and text from “The Lake Project.” May, 2004. Rosner, Hillary. "Imagine you are looking at a biological autopsy - conducted at 7,500 feet. "With camera lens trained on the dead lake," the photographer David Maisel writes, "its skin was peeled back, the exquisite corpse revealed."
“Immaculate Destruction: David Maisel’s Lake Project. Fall 2003. Gaston, Diana. "The ground is bleeding. A red river cuts a path through a bleached valley, winding toward a lake that is no longer there. Seen from the air, the river and its dry terminus appear otherworldly. In actuality, this terrain is located in Owens valley, an arid stretch of land in southeastern California, between the Sierra Mountains and the White-Inyo Range."
Review of solo exhibit at the Von Lintel Gallery. July 19, 2003. Aletti, Vince. "The subject of Maisel's six large, square color photographs is not at all apparent on first or even second glance. Though the pictures appear to record aspects of the natural world - dried blood? spilled ink? flayed rawhide? mold?- there's something in their scale and perspective that belies all these guesses."
“Black Maps,” reproduced in the Readings section, July, 2003. ""The Lake Project #9825-5 ," "Globe, Arizona Pond #14," "Clifton, Arizona #8," and "Butte, Montana Pond #10," by David Maisel whose work is currently on display at Von Lintel Gallery, in New York City, and at the Schneider Gallery in Chicago."
“David Maisel at the Von Lintel Gallery.” Review of solo exhibit. June 27, 2003. Glueck, Grace. "In "The Lake Project Photographs," in another room of the gallery, David Maisel also creates abstract imagery, with the aid of a camera and a very cooperative stretch of arid land called Owens Valley in southeastern California. Over decades the diversion of water from its river and lake to the Los Angeles Aqueduct has left an exposed dry salt flat from which emanates a continuous cloud of toxic particles. Recent attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency to control the spread by flooding the area has enhanced the already spectacular aerial views of the valley; Mr. Maisel, noted for his focus on environmental destruction, has been there with his camera. His pictures of erosion, desiccation and other forms of geologic mayhem that are only too photogenic have the force of abstract paintings. They give pleasure despite the horrendous facts that lie behind them."
Review of solo exhibit at the Schneider Gallery; June 13, 2003. Artner, Alan. "One of last year's most unforgettable phototgraphy books was a collection of aerial photographs by Emmet Gowin. Each of the pictures was of land damaged by various forms of pollution, and they were all as painful as if they had been studies of beaten or scarred bodies. David Maisel, one of Gowin's students who has an exhibition at the Schneider Gallery, also has taken aerial photographs of a polluted lake in California. But where Gowin's toned images evoked pain, Maisel' s color pictures create an entirely different sensation, one that is cooler and has the formal beauty of painted abstraction."
“David Maisel at the Bolinas Museum.” Review; April 2003. Van Proyen, Mark. "We all know what it means to "put things into perspective" by gaining "an overview of the big picture." It almost goes without saying that the confusions of our current sociopolitical situation renew our search for the clear vista provided by high Olympian ground. Almost from the moment of its invention, photography has been implicated in this quest."
“David Maisel at the Bolinas Museum.” Review; April, 2003. Keats, Jonathon. "Passing through southern California several years ago, photographer David Maisel noticed that the Owens Lake bed was a stunning shade of pink. Having already documented the remains of mines in places ranging from Butte Montana to Bisbee, Arizona, Maisel recognized something peculiar about the beauty."
“The Abstract Aerial Landscape Photography of David Maisel.” April/May, 2003. Olson, Marisa. "There is something very particular about the beauty of the Dutch still life paintings. The objects in them, each plucked from nature and arranged by human hands, rest at a hyperreal state of perfection, yet seem to teeter gluttonously on the verge of decay. In this sense, David Maisel's photos have much in common with the Flemish spreads that occupy so many of our museum walls."
“Abstraction in Photography.” Review of group exhibit. March 7, 2003. Glueck, Grace. "David Maisel's stunning "Butte, Montana No.7," an aerial photograph of a mountainous terrain, shows blobs of hot color and deep tracklesss white dispersed among peaks, valleys and ridges as curved by nature as those of a man-made structure."