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After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California, July 1979, from the series "American Prospects"

A work made of chromogenic print.

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  • A work made of chromogenic print.


July 1979, printed September 1987


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

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.


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Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California, July 1979, from the series "American Prospects"


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1979


Chromogenic print


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.); Paper: 50.7 × 60.9 cm (20 × 24 in.); Image: 40.7 × 50.8 cm (16 × 20 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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