Larry Schwarm’s newest photographs on fire are a continuation of what has become his life’s passion: documenting fire on the landscape of the Kansas Flint Hills. An essential element in the prairie ecosystem, fire benefits the land by destroying invasive plants and trees and encouraging new growth. Historically, prairie fires began as a natural phenomenon, which provided an essential element in the ecosystem. Not content to let nature take its course, though, this burning has evolved into human-controlled annual events. As the artist himself states, “The metaphor is obvious – without destruction there is no rebirth; for every act there is an opposing one.“
Recognized for his excellence, Larry Schwarm’s photographs were chosen from over 500 submissions to be the inaugural winner of the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. The resulting book On Fire has brought critical acclaim to this important body of work.
Larry Schwarm joins the ranks of America’s premier landscape photographers. His startling, mesmerizing series of photographs of prairie fires transport us from moments of almost apocalyptic splendor to the stillness of near abstraction.
Through his lens, the horizon takes on new meaning as we view the sublime, mystical, and sensual character of the burning landscape. Schwarm connects the enormous power and devastation of fire to what can only be identified as another kind of creation – the creation of beauty.
– Robert Adams, from the introduction On Fire
Larry Schwarm’s photographs have been exhibited widely across the United States. His work is in the collections of the American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC ; Beach Museum of Art, Manhattan, Kansas; Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa ; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; Library of Congress, Washington, DC ; LACMA (Los Angeles Museum of Art) ; Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mulvane Art Museum, Topeka, Kansas; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (Hallmark Collection); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Oklahoma University Art Museum, Norman, Oklahoma; SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) ; Sheldon Art Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska; Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas; Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, Kansas