New York

Mark Klett

Pace/MacGill Gallery

The great landscape photographs made by Timothy O’Sullivan, A. J. Russell, and others on the expeditions that explored the American West after the Civil War revealed a desolate, awesomely beautiful land. The West depicted in these densely detailed images was a place of breathtaking panoramas, of huge, grotesquely misshapen boulders, of implausibly dramatic geological formations; it was a land that seemed to certify the Romantic idea of nature as a repository of transcendental forces locked in chthonic struggle. In a sense these photographs could be taken as proof of the very assumptions that underlay their esthetic.

It’s not surprising that Mark Klett should adopt the style of these images in his large black and white Western landscapes; in the late ’70s Klett was chief photographer on a project to remake many of the survey photographs taken by those 19th-century photographers, from exactly

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