Why is there such an urge to encompass America—at least that part of the North American continent that is the United States? Why this drive to swallow the country whole-to know it as one knows a lover, to reveal its innermost essence—when it was born of many parts, a federation of different states place and mind? Perhaps it is the vastness of the undertaking that draws us in, the immensity of the task. Or perhaps it is because America is really a mirror, and in the process of describing it we cannot help but describe ourselves. If this is the case, what is at issue in books about America is not just the quality of observation, but the construction of history.
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Family in a car in tent city, outside of Houston, Texas, January The American photographer, celebrated for his ground-breaking colour work, gives an insight into his classic work, and why he believes "a photographic artist can no longer simply be aesthetic". The hardened, wary faces of a family crammed into a beat-up car in a tent city outside Houston, Texas are gripping — and timeless.
McLean, Virginia, December In the era of iPhones and prolific social media uploads, he says, a photographic artist can no longer simply be aesthetic. Architecture Museum, Provincetown, Massachusetts, July Even so — and despite his admiration for photojournalists such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Tyler Hicks — he made a point of differentiating between artists and journalists in a recent lecture.
A photograph of the humble Apfelkind Cafe in Bonn, Germany in accompanied by text explaining how the small merchant was sued by American tech behemoth Apple, for example, for using a bitten apple logo. At a narrow point in the Thames River, Romans, who had recently invaded what is now modern day England, built a bridge.
The year was 50 AD—the city of London grew up around that bridge. In the early 19th century, a stone bridge was built. By the s it was sinking into the muddy bottom of the Thames at a rate of 1 inch every 8 years.
Not quite falling down, but sufficiently alarming to induce the city of London to sell the bridge. Piece by piece it was dismantled, brought to Lake Havasu, Arizona, and reassembled. Riding his bicycle over the bridge one day, David Jensen concluded that an Italian Gondola concession would go well with London Bridge. He built his gondola and proceeded to ply romantic tourists with arias in Italian, French, German, and Japanese. A central piece in the new collection depicts a singing gondolier in full regalia, paddling in front of a bridge.
The photograph is also brought to life in a related short film, which follows the aria-trilling gondolier through London Bridge and around the waterways filled with booze cruises and collegiate revellers. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in bricks and mortar. Entire families of men, women, and children are working for a pittance, up to 16 hours a day in terrible conditions. His fascination with 19th century New England lead him to learn of Joseph Palmer, a Massachusetts farmer who grew a beard when such facial adornments were frowned upon.
After defending himself when a group of men tried to removed it, he was charged with assault; when he refused to pay a fine, he was sent to jail. Just when utopia is squarely in view, evil will win out. Canyon Country, California, June Join Us.
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American Prospects by Sternfeld
The renowned photographer has revised his most noteworthy book, featuring 16 unpublished images depicting the ironic, gritty and uneasy beauty of the American landscape. In , esteemed photographer Joel Sternfeld first published his critically acclaimed American Prospects. Chronicling life across the US, the series became an instant classic for its documentation of the environment, and American culture and society. Four decades have passed since he started shooting the series in and these photographs hold as much relevance as ever. Iconic works have been included — such as the image of a fireman buying pumpkins while a house burns behind him — with the addition of 16 new and unpublished images.
40 years on and Joel Sternfeld’s photo book American Prospects has never been more relevant
Family in a car in tent city, outside of Houston, Texas, January The American photographer, celebrated for his ground-breaking colour work, gives an insight into his classic work, and why he believes "a photographic artist can no longer simply be aesthetic". The hardened, wary faces of a family crammed into a beat-up car in a tent city outside Houston, Texas are gripping — and timeless. McLean, Virginia, December
Joel Sternfeld on his classic American Prospects – and his new work
This definitive edition of American Prospects contains sixteen new pictures, most of which have neither been published nor exhibited. Freed from the size constraints of previous editions, Sternfeld includes portraits and portraits in the landscape which elucidate the human condition in America. ISBN 1. VAT Free shipping.
Hardcover, cloth bound with dust jacket. Introduction by Andy Grundberg, afterword by Anne W. Finally, photography and offset printing techniques have caught up with Sternfeld's eye, and this new edition of American Prospects succeeds in presenting Sternfeld's most seminal work as it has always meant to be shown. A specially-commissioned essay by Kerry Brougher, Chief Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, considers the historical context in which Sternfeld was working and the pivotal role that American Prospects has played in the course of contemporary filmmaking and art photography. In American Prospects, a fireman shops for a pumpkin while a house burns in the background; a group of motorcyclists stop at the side of the road to take in a stunning, placid view of Bear Lake, Utah; the high-tech world headquarters of the Manville Corporation sits in picturesque Colorado, obscured by a defiant boulder; a lone basketball net stands in the desert near Lake Powell in Arizona; and a cookie-cutter suburban housing settlement rests squarely amongst rolling hills in Pendleton, Oregon. Sternfeld's photographic tour of America is a search for the truth of a country not just as it exists in a particular era but as it is in its ever-evolving essence. It is a sad poem, but also a funny and generous one, recognizing endurance, poignant beauty, and determination within its sometimes tense, often ironic juxtapositions of man and nature, technology and ruin.