Book Corner #11: 'American Prospects' by Joel Sternfeld

The book corner section highlights the most original aspects of Californian culture all summer long, through works selected and reviewed by Angelo Cirimele. Photographer Joel Sternfeld was part of a small group working in the ‘70s and ‘80s who legitimized the use of colour film, generally reserved for ‘amateur’ recreational use, in art photography. His first publication in 1987 was this book, American Prospects.  Now considered a landmark publication, the book presents the results of Sternfeld’s many road trips across the country, where he employed formal and expansive framing to subtly document socio-economic issues in the U.S.A. with his trademark irony and humour.   

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American Prospects – Joel Sternfeld

"Landscape photography is often considered to be the heir apparent of painting. As far as I am concerned - and all contrariness aside - I prefer to think the other way around and I look at a picture as if it were a painting. As such, I like to break them down into pieces: separating the foreground from the background, being lost in the contemplation of the light, or wondering about how long it took to create this image. With the work of American photographer Joel Sternfeld, it’s all a breeze: his landscape pictures are snapshots of America, displaying the insignificance of human interventions in the vast openness of scenery. Cars are pervasive, and so are leisure activities, embodied by swimming pools or lakes, suggested in the pictures with foam or stretches of water. While the photographs were mostly taken in the 1970s and 1980s, they remain to a large degree utterly timeless."

'American Prospects', Joel Sternfeld, 1987-2012, 140 p. Ed. Steidl.


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