American Surfaces and the Photobook

Nov 22, 2017–May 28, 2018


  • Education Center, Mezzanine Mezzanine

Over the last 20 years, the photobook has become recognized as a dynamic medium for publishing, collecting, and curating. Today more and more photographers conceive of their projects in book form. Even as digital media alter the way we consume photographs, the physicality and tactility of the book continue to captivate artists and readers. Advancements in contemporary bookmaking, such as print-on-demand technology, have made publishing more accessible and exciting than ever. At the same time, collecting and exhibiting photobooks are still relatively new practices, making the photobook fertile ground for exploration and discovery.

In conjunction with the exhibition Stephen Shore, this installation features seminal photobooks of the past century drawn from the collection of the MoMA Library, with an emphasis on the achievements of Shore and other artists who have focused on the American landscape. The works presented range from passionate pleas for social justice and environmental protection to cool, objective, and form-driven perspectives on the landscape. Some books describe life in major cities. Others were born out of long road trips, walks in the countryside, and travels through transitional spaces and borderlands. A broad range of image-making techniques were used to create these works, from the collodion process, invented in the mid-19th century, to Google Street View. As photographers continue to be inspired by Shore and the American landscape, new approaches—and photobooks—are sure to follow.

Organized by Philip Parente, Library Collections Coordinator.


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