27.1 – 18.2 2017
Joel Sternfeld:Colour Photographs 1977-1988
27.01 – 18.02.2017
The gallery was pleased to present Colour Photographs: 1977-1988, the first solo exhibition in the UK by the American photographer, Joel Sternfeld for 15 years. Featuring 30 vintage dye transfer and chromogenic prints, the exhibition will include well known images by the artist as well as works that have never been seen before.
The exhibition will showcase several examples of vintage dye transfer prints from one of Sternfeld’s best-known bodies of work, American Prospects. Sternfeld traversed the United States with his 8 x 10 inch camera, in order to capture the essential character of the country. 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.
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 with implied narrative, which were also distinct in their colour and composition. Pictures included in the exhibition demonstrate early experiments with colour and conceptual strategies that the artist would develop later on into complete bodies of work.
Sternfeld’s work is characterised by its attention to societal issues, delicately balanced by subtle irony and humour. McLean, Virginia, December 1978 is an example of this; here we see a fire fighter shopping for a pumpkin at a farm market whilst a house on fire blazes in the background. Despite appearances, the scene that Sternfeld had captured was a controlled training exercise, and a chief who was able to leave his post when the house was allowed to burn to the ground. The hidden story of this photograph shows Sternfeld to be engaging with the problematic “truth value” of photography.
B. United States1944
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.
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.