Joel Sternfeld is an artist-photographer whose work is concerned with utopic and dystopic possibilities of the American experience.
Firstly, ever since the publication of his landmark study, American Prospects in 1987 his work has maintained conceptual and political aspects. While also being steeped in history, art history, landscape theory and attention to seasonal passage. It is a melancholic, spectacular, funny and profound portrait of America. As a result, the curator Kevin Moore has claimed that the work embodies the “synthetic culmination of so many photographic styles of the 1970s. Incorporating the humor and social perspicacity of street photography with the detached restraint of New Topographics photographs. As well as the pronounced formalism of works by so many late-decade colorists”
So, his work represents a melding of time and place that serves to elucidate, honor, and warn. The images hold a certain urgency. As their histories survive solely through their photographic representation— they are an archive for the future.
Sternfeld is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and spent a year in Italy on a Rome Prize. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, where he holds the Noble Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History.