Joel Sternfeld

27th Jan 2017 - 18th Feb 2017

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27 January – 18 February 2017

Beetles+Huxley is 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.

Born in 1944 in New York City, Sternfeld earned a BA in Art from Dartmouth College in 1965. 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, the Museum Folkwang Essen, the Albertina Museum of Vienna and C/O Berlin. He 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.

Giles Huxley-Parlour, director of Beetles+Huxley, has stated: “Sternfeld’s work has become an influential part of art history and has shaped the way that the world looks at American life and culture. His pioneering early colour photographs present a country of immense beauty and opportunity, but one seemingly stuck at a turning point: proud of its past as a noble experiment in democracy, but fraught with various new and disturbing forces. His work resonates strongly today at a time of such upheaval in American politics and society.”

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Works

Sudden Summer Storm, Connecticut, C. 1977

Joel Sternfeld

Near Tucson, Arizona, April 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Mclean, Virginia, December 1978

Joel Sternfeld

Virginia On The Potomac, November 1978

Joel Sternfeld

Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, California, May 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Beverly Hills, California, May 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Sauvies Island, Oregon, June 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Exhausted Renegade Elephant, Woodland, Washington, June 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Lake Oswego, Oregon, June 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Park City, Utah, August 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Kitt Peak National Observatory, Pima County, Arizona, August 1979

Joel Sternfeld

Addison, Vermont, May 1980

Joel Sternfeld

Wet ‘N’ Wild Aquatic Theme Park, Orlando, Florida, September 1980

Joel Sternfeld

Uss Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, September 1980

Joel Sternfeld

Ketchum, Idaho, October 1980

Joel Sternfeld

Architecture Museum, Provincetown, Massachusetts, July 1980

Joel Sternfeld

Elkmont Campground, Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee, November 1980

Joel Sternfeld

Coeburn, Virginia, April 1981

Joel Sternfeld

Lake Powell, Arizona, August 1982

Joel Sternfeld

Monument Hills, Housatonic, Massachusetts, August 1982

Joel Sternfeld

Moenkopi, Arizona, August 1982

Joel Sternfeld

Family In A Car In Tent City, Outside Of Houston, Texas, January 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Abandoned Uranium Refinery, Near Tuba City, Navajo Nation, August 1982

Joel Sternfeld

Red Rock State Campground (Boy), Gallup, New Mexico, September 1982

Joel Sternfeld

Member Of The Christ Family Religious Sect, Hidlago County, Texas, January 1983

Joel Sternfeld

A Kickapoo Man In Eagle Pass Texas, January 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Grafton, West Virginia, February 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Monongahela River, Grafton, West Virginia, February 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, March 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Canyon Country, California, June 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Kansas City, Kansas, May 1983

Joel Sternfeld

Portage Glacier, Alaska, August 1984

Joel Sternfeld

Two Motels In Las Cruces, New Mexico, 1986

Joel Sternfeld

Agoura, California, February 1988

Joel Sternfeld