JOEL STERNFELD I American Prospects


Saturday, 13 January 2024, 4-6pm

The artist will be present.

Booksigning at 5pm.

Zander Galerie Cologne is delighted to present its first solo exhibition of works by a major figure in the photography world, Joel Sternfeld. The American photographer belongs to the most important representatives of the New Color Photography movement from the 1970s. As a critical observer, Sternfeld traveled through the US for years, capturing the country and its inhabitants in all their peculiarities and contradictions in extense. 

In 1969 Sternfeld began working with a 35 mm camera and Kodachrome film. In works from this time he develops traits that appear in his mature work: irony, a politicised view of America, concern for the social condition. But there are also pictures that bear little relation to his later work: color arrangements that parallel those of William Eggleston, as well as street photography which Sternfeld ceased making in 1976. Those photographs were made at a time when color photography was struggling to assert itself against the authoritative black and white tradition.

In his seminal series American Prospects, created between 1978 and 1986, Sternfeld deals with the American landscape and the relationship to its people. The presentation at Zander Galerie comprises a selection of about 25 works of American Prospects most of which have neither been published nor exhibited. 

The everyday and often bizarre occurrences captured in brilliant colors not only show nature threatened by environmental damage and ever more economically developed, but also allow conclusions to be drawn about the socio-political conditions of the time.

 “Born of a desire to follow the seasons up and down America, and equally to find lyricism in contemporary American life despite all its dark histories,I have been very fortunate as American Prospects has enjoyed a life of acclaim. Its photographs are filled with unexpected excitement, despair, tenderness and hope. Its fears are expressed in beauty, its sorrows in irony. Oddly enough, the society it seems to presage has now come to be; oddly enough, the ideas of this pictures bespeak our present moment.” (Joel Sternfeld)

On the occasion of the opening, Zander Galerie is also pleased to invite the public to a book signing with Joel Sternfeld. Often out of print, Steidl’s new edition of Joel Sternfeld’s book American Prospects–including the now classic images alongside a group of never published photographs–will be available for signing by the artist. First published in 1987 to critical acclaim, American Prospects has been likened to Walker Evans’ American Photographsand Robert Frank’s The Americansin both its ability to visually summarize the zeitgeist of a decade and to influence the course of photography following its publication.

Joel Sternfeld was born in New York City in 1944. He has received numerous awards including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Prix de Rome and the Citibank Photography Award. His works are included in numerous museum collections worldwide, as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich; J. Paul Getty Museum, LA; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Art Institute of Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMa, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston amongst other. Sternfeld holds the Nobel Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.  

Related artist:

Joel Sternfeld

Joel Sternfeld, Two Houses in Central Maine, August 1992 


Joel Sternfeld, Portage Glacier, Alaska, August 1984


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

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