Re-SITE-ing the West: Contemporary Photographs from the Permanent Collection

Hammer Building, Level 2
March 4, 2007–June 3, 2007

This exhibition, which includes approximately thirty works by artists such as Lewis Baltz, Hank Wessel, and Mark Ruwedel, continues the dialogue about—and affirms the enduring mystique of—the place we call the West. By the 1970s, when most of the photographs on view were made, America's postwar optimism had faded. Anxiety about potential nuclear annihilation grew as the cold war raged. With its weapons laboratories and test sites, the West was implicated in this new chapter of human history. Ravenous consumption sparked by American affluence further transformed the mythical guise of the Western landscape. Artists soon began to investigate our contradictory appetites for creation and destruction. Reflecting on the realities of rapid development and exploring the terrain as object, the artists in this exhibition celebrate the West as a site in and of itself, with imposed illusions, allusions, and romantic pretensions laid to rest. This installation accompanies The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890–1950.

Curator: Tim Wride, Photography.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

Image: Mark Ruwedel, United States, b. 1954, Deep Creek #2, 1999, M.2001.146.1, from the series Westward the Course of Empire, gelatin-silver print, with graphite lettering, ed. of 10, 7 7/16 x 9 3/8 in., mount 16 x 20 in., Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © Mark Ruwedel.