Drawing from the vast photography collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, American Geography charts a visual history of land use in the United States
From the earliest photographic records of human habitation to the latest aerial and digital pictures, from almost uninhabited desert and isolated mountainous territories to suburban sprawl and densely populated cities, this compilation offers an increasingly nuanced perspective on the American landscape. Divided by region, these photographs address ways in which different histories and traditions of land use have given rise to different cultural transitions: from the Midwestern prairies and agricultural traditions of the South, to the riverine systems in the Northeast, and the environmental challenges and riches of the far West. American Geography also looks at the evidence of older habitation from the adobe dwellings and ancient cultures of the Southwest to the Midwestern mounds, many of them prehistoric.
SFMOMA's last photography exhibition to consider land use, Crossing the Frontier (1996), examined only the American West. At the time, this focus offered a different way to think about landscape, and a useful way to reconsider pictures of the region. American Geography expands upon the groundwork laid by Crossing the Frontier, providing a complex, thought-provoking survey.
Photographers include: Carleton E. Watkins, Barbara Bosworth, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Mitch Epstein, An-My Lê, William Eggleston, Alec Soth, Mishka Henner, Trevor Paglen, Victoria Sambunaris, Emmet Gowin, Robert Adams, Terry Evans, Dorothea Lange and Mark Ruwedel, among others.