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About the Photographer
American, b. 1944
In the tradition of the New Topographic photographers, Joel Sternfeld documents the American landscape noting the ironic, often destructive impact of human activity on the land. With a career spanning over forty years, Sternfeld is regarded as a major influence in contemporary
landscape photography, in part as an early proponent of working in color. In Sternfeld’s image "McLean Virginia," we see a fireman who appears to be shopping for pumpkins at a farm stand as a house dramatically burns in the background. Sternfeld claims that when he made
this image, the farm and home depicted were scheduled to be demolished to make way for a housing development. The fire in this scene was actually a controlled burn training session for local firefighters.
Joel Sternfeld was born in New York on June 30, 1944. He holds a BA from Dartmourth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (1965), and began photographing in color in 1970. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships (1978 and 1982), a National Endowment for the Arts Photographers Fellowship (1980), and the Prix de Rome (1990-91). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. His photographs are also in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Seattle Art Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Sternfeld has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York, since 1985.