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.

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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. Keep up-to-date with the leading voice in contemporary photography.


Joel 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. The thing is, take time away from any given project and it will allow a new perspective to grow.


40 years on and Joel Sternfeld’s photo book American Prospects has never been more relevant

Last updated: May 14, In , President Reagan was elected president and Joel Sternfeld had embarked on a road trip across America that would allow him to capture life in America as it was in the s. His photographs from the American Prospects series helped to usher in a new breed of modern photographers, which is why Sternfeld has always been characterized as one of the most influential photographers of his generation. Sternfeld was inspired by Robert Frank 1 , who at the time was well known for influencing countless numbers of aspiring artists and photographers across a series of genres. With the money from the Guggenheim Grant, Sternfeld then traveled to various parts of America managing to capture normal Americans living their day to day life from his Volkswagen camper van.

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