PRINT Summer 1982



To the Editor:

Colin Westerbeck’s article on the Timothy O’Sullivan exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its catalogue (“Strangers in a Strange Land,” Artforum, March 1982) was terrific. He and I are obviously in disagreement about the significance of O’Sullivan’s Western photographs, but it is a useful, intelligible difference.

I would like to discuss one of the issues Westerbeck raises, in his line: “This seems a landscape that even the wrathful God of the Old Testament has forsaken.” I wonder. Certainly, for Clarence King, this landscape proved divine intervention; the question is, of course, if it had something of the same significance for O’Sullivan. Westerbeck notes that King wished to refute Charles LyeII’s “uniform action” theory, and within certain bounds he is quite correct. But King was no fundamentalist from Yale. King dated the creation of the earth not to 4004 B.C.

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