Arizona Landscape

Object Details


Arizona Landscape


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






Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



19.2 × 24.3 cm (7 9/16 × 9 9/16 in.)


© 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.

1994 -

Frederick Sommer Prescott, AZ, USA, American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999

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
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
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
Cross Country: The Power of Place in American Art (February 12 to May 7, 2017)
  • High Museum of Art (Atlanta), February 12 to May 7, 2017

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: JPGM, 1994), figure 3a.