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Steidl : Joel Sternfeld : American Prospects


Returning to the original 1987 publication’s format, this new edition of Joel Sternfeld’s lyrical portrait of America’s hopes and sorrows includes previously unseen images.

Born of a desire to follow the seasons up and down America, and equally to find lyricism in contemporary American life despite all its dark histories, American Prospects has enjoyed a life of acclaim. Its pages are filled with unexpected excitement, despair, tenderness and hope. Its fears are expressed in beauty, its sadnesses in irony. Oddly enough, the society it seems to presage has now come to be; oddly enough, the ideas of this book bespeak our present moment.

Often out of print, this new edition of Joel Sternfeld’s seminal book returns to the format of the original 1987 edition. All of the now classic images within it—alongside a group of never published photographs—examine a once pristine land stewarded by indigenous peoples who needed no lessons in stewardship, and a land now occupied by a mix of peoples hoping for salvation within the fraught paths of late capitalism. The result suggests a vast nation whose prospects have much to do with global prospects, a “teenager of the world” unaware of its strengths, filled with idealism and frequent failings. These pictures see all but judge not.

More than anything else, it is Sternfeld’s skeptical, trenchant, and loving depiction of the schism in contemporary consciousness that has permitted photographic practice to move forward as it has since the pivotal “American Prospects”. –Michelle Tupko


A major figure in the photography world, Joel Sternfeld was born in New York City in 1944. He has received numerous awards including two Guggenheim fellowships, a Prix de Rome and the Citibank Photography Award. Sternfeld holds the Nobel Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College. His books published by Steidl include American Prospects (2003), Sweet Earth (2006), Oxbow Archive (2008), First Pictures (2012), Landscape as Longing (2016) with Frank Gohlke, Rome after Rome (2019) and Our Loss (2019).


Joel Sternfeld : American Prospects
Text by Andy Grundberg
Book Design: Joel Sternfeld and Holger Feroudj / Steidl Design
108 pages, 52 images
12 x 9.9 in. / 30.5 x 25.3 cm
Four-color process
ISBN 978-3-96999-229-6
US$ 50.00 / € 50.00 / £ 45.00

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