What We Bought: The New World will be on view at Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Fourth Floor, San Francisco from October 16 through November 22, 1997. The exhibition will be comprised of a unique set of 183 vintage prints dating from 1970 to 1974. These works have never been exhibited in the United States, and have been seen only once before, in 1995 at the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Americans poured into the cities of the West, attracted by the natural beauty and quality of life found there. As populations ballooned, buildings, roads, telephone poles, supermarkets and billboards went up and the land became littered with the signs of civilization. These photographs, all made in the Denver metropolitan area, pinpoint a moment of major alteration in our culture’s values.
According to Robert Adams, “In a few years…the area’s ruin would be testament to a bargain we had tried to strike. The pictures record what we purchased, what we paid and what we could not buy. They document a separation from ourselves, and in turn from the natural world that we professed to love.”
Born in New Jersey in 1937, Adams has spent most of his adult life in the western United States recording in photographs the changing appearance as well as the enduring qualities of the landscape. In addition to being selected as a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, Robert Adams has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and the Photographers’ Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1989, he was the subject of a major retrospective organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His work and writings on photographs have appeared in numerous books and monographs.
What We Bought: The New World is accompanied by a 206-page hardcover catalog, which reproduces every image in the exhibition.