Joel Sternfeld: American Prospects
Essays by Kerry Brougher, Andy Grundberg and Anne W. Tucker.
Originally published in 1987, Joel Sternfeld's now-classic view of America is here remastered, redesigned and reprinted at a larger, brighter, truer scale. 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.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
The New York Times
In the late 1970s and early '80s Joel Sternfield criss-crossed the country, from Beverly Hills, Calif., to Aroostook County, Me., capturing Thoreau's lives of quiet desperation whipsawed by the American dream in transition. One of the most powerful images here is of a potato harvest. A bone-weary girl waits on a barrel of potatoes on a gray Maine day. The horizon looms before her, but rather than being limitless it seems as if it means to crush her. "American Prospects," first issued in 1987, is an essential documant in understanding both 20th- and 21st-century America.