More than forty years ago, Richard S. Buswell chose the relics of Montana's past as his raw material. Over time, in five books, he has sharpened his focus, moving from panoramic vistas of abandoned buildings to meticulously composed, tightly framed depictions of natural and man-made objects against stark black backgrounds. He has shifted the viewer's attention from his subjects to the form and structure of his pictures. Although rooted in Buswell's experience as a lifelong Montanan, the photographs in this book are no more (or less) "about" Montana than James Joyce's Dubliners, Portrait of an Artist, or Ulysses are "about" Dublin.
Most books about Western ghost towns and historical artifacts abound in sentiment. They comfort us with the illusion that we can recover what has been lost. What They Left Behind reminds us that time carries us onward despite our wishes to remain in the past.
Richard Buswell's photographs have been shown in 39 solo museum exhibitions and included in 230 museum group shows. His photographs are in the permanent collections of more than 200 art museums. Buswell lives in Helena, Montana.
"Like a great athlete, actor, or musician, Buswell inspires our awe by his ability to use light, a lens, and silver salts to create images that capture our attention, delight our sight, and stimulate both our hearts and our minds. We and our descendants can be glad that they are among the things he leaves behind."--George Miles, William Robertson Coe Curator, Yale Collection of Western Americana
"What They Left Behind weds dissipation with anticipation. Using powerfully mysterious abstracted visions of what was once useful, we heighten our perceptions and guess again. What is that? we ask ourselves, realizing what we see is not always what we get."--Barbara Koostra, Director, Montana Museum of Art & Culture