Reframing the New Topographics
Photography, Art History, Landscape studies
6 x 9
Illustration count and type:
Edited by Greg Foster-Rice and John Rohrbach
1975 is a pivotal year in the history of photography. The exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape crystallized a new view of the American West, one that denaturalized the sublime “American” vistas of Ansel Adams, replacing that pristine and timeless “America” with a landscape inundated with banal symbols of humanity. Organized by William Jenkins for the George Eastman House, New Topographics showcased photographs by Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, and others who epitomized a new artistic interest in the ways in which the past is continually being unmade by human development. Their pictures, illustrating the vernacular, human-made landscape, punctured the myth of the pristine, wild American landscape, and definitively changed the course of landscape photography.
Reframing the New Topographics offers the first substantive analysis of this context and the continuing influence of an exhibition that not only reshaped the look and subject matter of landscape photography, but also foreshadowed environmentalism’s expansion beyond the mere preservation of wilderness. The essays in this anthology add important dimension to a growing chorus of scholars of visual culture who are engaging with the complex social and political contexts of landscape representation.