B. United States, 1944
B. United States 1944
Joel Sternfeld began taking photographs in 1970 having studied the colour theory of artists Johannes Itten and Josef Albers. Early work included street photography on small and medium format cameras. In 1978, Sternfeld embarked on a road-trip which traversed the United States. Using an 8 x 10 inch camera, Sternfeld photographed the communities, culture, landscapes and quotidian life he encountered along the way.
American Prospects is seen as a continuation of the American documentary tradition established in the 1930s by Walker Evans and continued by Robert Frank twenty years later. Sternfeld expanded the trajectory of the medium by photographing scenes rich in implied narrative, which were also distinct in their colour and composition. Laced with a touch of irony, his photographs from the project explore American identity in a thought provoking yet humorous manner. His masterful use of colour heightens the tensions in these comic depictions of everyday life in America. First exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and then published in book form in 1987, American Prospects is regarded as one of the most influential bodies of photographic work from this period. Sternfeld’s later work has continued to experiment with colour and put it to use in documenting everyday events and the people he encounters.
Sternfeld was born in New York City in 1944, and earned a BA in Art from Dartmouth College. His work has been the subject of multiple exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, the Museum Folkwang Essen, Germany, the Albertina Museum of Vienna, Austria and C/O Berlin, Germany. Sternfeld has received numerous awards including two Guggenheim fellowships, a Prix de Rome and the Citibank Photography Award. He holds the Noble Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College.
He lives and works in New York.
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