In our newest 5+5 interview we hit up art-supporting superwoman Larissa Leclair, whose triumphs in and out of the art world make most of us wonder if we’ve been seriously slacking off. For one, Leclair founded the Indie Photobook Library, a jaw-dropping collection (now in the safe-keeping of Yale University) that includes over 2,000 photobooks from around the world. She’s also an accomplished lecturer, award-winner, contributor to TIME Magazine’s “Best Photobooks of the Year”, vocal proponent of self-publishing photobooks and champion of emerging artists, and an avid art collector. Her newest venture? Redefining real estate as a brilliant realtor. Leclair’s endeavoring attitude even came across in her responses, a few of which you can peep below—thoughtful, poetic, and enthusiastic. This 5+5 feature is one you won’t wanna skim! – Team 20x200
5 Perfect Picks1) After the Rain by Chikara Umihara
At first glance, I saw the light shimmering off the water as a mystical array of stars in an iridescent night sky. With each look, the image still oscillates between the two for me, emanating a feeling of whimsy and wonder in the world which I love.
2) Washington, D.C. (ISS046-E-25742) by Scott Kelly
Millions of people followed Scott Kelly on Instagram and Twitter for his #yearinspace as he orbited earth and I was one of them. The views he captured were astounding, including this image of DC and its suburbs. The gray-black space in the middle is the National Mall with L'Enfant's grid extending outward to the distinct boundary lines of the city.
3) Ideal Bookshelf 367: Photography, by Jane Mount
Of course I had to pick this. I’m a photobook collector and my bookshelf at home is the physical version of this. How meta would it be to have this hanging in my library - books or artwork of books? - I’ll have both.
4) Gleichenia immersa, Jamaica by Anna Atkins
Cheers to influential women in history! Anna Atkins is known to have published the first photobook in 1843 of cyanotypes of British algae. She then documented ferns. A series of these work well in any room.
5) Opuntia by Jessica Zollman
This image is all about texture and subtly. The prickly pear cacti in a nuanced blue-green hue with accents of pink play off the rough adobe wall. It brings a unique desert scene into your home and is a stark contrast to the soft leaves of Anna Atkins’ umbrella fern above.
5 Q's + 5 A's1) What's your favorite museum?
I make a point to visit museums no matter where I am in the world. Since I live in Virginia, I’m going to pick the National Gallery of Art here in DC. I feel lucky to be able to visit regularly. The collection is an incredible survey of art history and the East and West buildings themselves are equally inspiring.
2) What's your most coveted coffee table book?
When the Indie Photobook Library went to Yale, I also donated some photobooks from my personal collection, one of which was the artist book Red String by Yoshikatsu Fujii. I selected it as best photobook of 2014 for TIME and I miss living with that book.
3) You've got $5m to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
With $5 million I would have a Hiroshi Sugimoto room filled with his Seascapes, installed like the 2006 retrospective at the Hirshhorn.
4) Do you prefer a single statement piece or a salon wall?
Salon style is awesome, especially with 20x200 editions! Whether it is a few pieces grouped on the wall or arranged floor to ceiling like the Long Gallery at the Yale Center for British Art, we should all be living with more art.
5) Your various endeavors—from the Indie Photobook Library to your new residency program—demonstrate that you’re hugely committed to supporting the arts + photography. Can you tell us more about how these projects have evolved, and how they relate to one another?
Thank you. That means a lot. The iPL started with an idea, one photobook, and a Facebook page. I created a platform and collection outside of a traditional institution that was influential in shaping photobook history and will continue to be a resource for scholars hundreds of years from now. Collectively, self-publishers and independent presses added their voices and made their mark on the industry. In turn, my new residency provides the opportunity for a female photographer to make work and network in DC. This year I partnered with fototazo and brought in Natalia Lopera from Colombia. Support comes in many ways. Purchase photography or photobooks from artists, provide mentoring opportunities, commission a project, and donate work to museums to broaden and diversify permanent institutional collections. We as art patrons can empower and in turn shape history.
The 411 on Larissa Leclair
Larissa Leclair is a realtor in Northern Virginia, collector, and founder of the Indie Photobook Library, now permanently housed at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. Leclair was a Young Voices Fellow for The Next Conversation at the Center for Creative Photography and received the Spotlight Award from the Griffin Museum in 2014 for her contribution to the field of photography. She has lectured around the world, championing self-published photobooks, contributes to TIME’s “Best Photobooks of the Year”, and continues to shape collections, support artists, and develop young collectors. Leclair is on the Leadership Committee for YaleWomen DC. Day to day she is accomplishing real estate goals with her clients.