About this artwork
Just as color photography was coming into its own as a medium for art, Joel Sternfeld started his career dedicated to using color film. In the late 1960s he made a major aesthetic shift by transitioning from images of life on the streets captured with a handheld camera to studies of the American landscape taken with a large-format view camera. In 1978 a Guggenheim grant allowed Sternfeld to embark on a nearly decade-long project that began as a drive across the United States. His photographic Wanderjahr, which echoed those of Walker Evans in the 1930s and Robert Frank in the 1950s, yielded the 1987 publication American Prospects, the contents of which the Art Institute owns in its entirety. After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California, July 1979 is typical of photographs in that book, many replete with details that take time to register fully, such as the comparison between a more visible car that sits calmly parked and another, destroyed, that lies overturned and embedded in the underside of a largely beige-to-brown landscape. Sternfeld uses color here and often to add layers of emotional complexity to seemingly straightforward images.
Currently Off View
- Joel Sternfeld
- After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California, July 1979
- United States
- Made 1979
- Chromogenic print, from the series "American Prospects"
- Unmarked recto; inscribed verso, upper right, in black ink: "JS.001.8"; inscribed and signed verso, lower center, along bottom edge, in black ink: "After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California, July 1979 N-July 1979 / P-September 1987 Joel Sternfeld"; inscribed verso, lower right, in graphite: "E"
- 40.6 × 50.8 cm (16 × 20 in., image); 50.7 × 60.9 cm (paper)
- Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall