Arizona Landscape

Object Details

Title:

Arizona Landscape

Artist/Maker(s):

Frederick Sommer (American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999)

Culture:

American

Date:

1945

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions:

19.2 x 24.3 cm (7 9/16 x 9 9/16 in.)

Copyright:

© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

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For years I looked at the Arizona landscape and it seemed almost a hopeless task…. What was the difference between the top of the picture and the bottom of it? It was all the same…. These were enormous areas, but still there were details…. There's nothing happening in the sky and I decided, 'No skies for me.' Finally there was no foreground, there was no middle distance, there was nothing. And, there was very little distinction between the plants and the rocks. Even the rocks were struggling.

Thus Frederick Sommer described his initial difficulties in photographing the barren Arizona landscape. Cacti rise up intermittently from the arid ground like ritual markers, as Sommer's unusual perspective and meticulous framing redefine this horizonless desert landscape, a terrain at once both ancient and contemporary.

Exhibitions
Frederick Sommer: Poetry and Logic (December 6, 1994 to February 12, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), December 6, 1994 to February 12, 1995, (Cat.)
Capturing Time: A Celebration of Photographs (December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998, (Cat.)
The Photographs of Frederick Sommer: A Centennial Tribute (May 10 to September 4, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 10 to September 4, 2005, (Cat.)
Bibliography

Aperture, vol. 10, no. 4 10:4.

Sommer, Frederick. Venus, Jupiter & Mars: The Photographs of Frederick Sommer, edited by John Weiss, exh. cat.; cosponsored by the Department of Art, University of Delaware and the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, Del.: Delaware Art Museum, 1980) fig. 23.

Sommer, Frederick. Sommer: Words (v. 1)/Images (v. 2) (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1984) pl. 28.

Naef, Weston. Frederick Sommer: Poetry and Logic, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994) figure 3a.