Era of exploration and new topographics : annotated bibliographies of two landmark exhibitions
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 08:00 by Jennifer Roger
In 1975, two landscape photography exhibitions were held concurrently in upstate New York; Era of Exploration: The Rise of Landscape Photography in the American West, 1860-1885, at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery and New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape, at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, in Rochester (now The George Eastman International Museum of Photography and Film). Era of Exploration treated nineteenth-century landscapes of the American West while New Topographics addressed contemporary landscape practices. Though applying fundamentally different approaches to their subject matter, each exhibition proved to be extremely important to the understanding and development of not only landscape photography, but also the genre's place in photographic history. This thesis examines the essential literature relating to these two landmark exhibitions, through the construction of two extensive annotated bibliographies. Each bibliography comprises nine sections that present and evaluate significant materials, published both before and after the exhibition, relating to the exhibitions and their publications, the included photographers, and the exhibitions' influence as revealed in subsequent specialized studies and general histories of photography. The bibliographies' chronological listing allows readers to re-construct the exhibitions, and to trace the development of historical and curatorial interest in the exhibitions, the photographers, and American western landscape photography. The thesis describes the process of compiling and annotating this literature and offers reflections on how these two important exhibitions, while employing very different curatorial approaches, influenced the aesthetics, methodologies and concepts of landscape photography.