First published in 1987 to critical acclaim, the seminal American Prospects has been likened to Walker Evans’ American Photographs and Robert Frank’s The Americans in both its ability to visually summarize the zeitgeist of a decade and to influence the course of photography following its publication. This definitive edition of American Prospects contains twelve new pictures, most of which have neither been published nor exhibited. Freed from the size constraints of previous editions, Sternfeld includes portraits and portraits in the landscape which elucidate the human condition in America. The result is a more complex and rounded view of American society that strongly anticipates Sternfeld’s “Stranger Passing” series (1985-2000) and links the two bodies of work.
If the contamination of paradise has often been Sternfeld’s subject, he has likewise tainted the purity of photography in order to capture the condition of America. His shift from spontaneous snapshot to predetermined picture-making helped open the gates for a new type of photography now practiced by Gregory Crewdson, Rineke Dijkstra, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall, among many others. – Kerry Brougher, former chief curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden