New York

Joel Sternfeld

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

The circumstances surrounding Joel Sternfeld’s last show, in 2004, were almost as sensational as the photographs themselves. Defecting from Pace/MacGill Gallery to the same gallery as Gregory Crewdson (a Sternfeld champion who makes work that bears a striking resemblance to the senior artist’s), his “American Prospects” photographs, shot in the late 1970s and mid-’80s, were printed nearly twice the size of earlier editions. It was a controversial move that seemed both market- and art-historically driven, a selfconscious update for the post-Gurksy age aimed at positioning him as an overlooked or “rediscovered” American master who, along with William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, had pioneered the use of color photography in an artistic context.

The debate around those issues mostly faded with this show of new work. “Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America” found Sternfeld once again

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