What We Bought is part of a loose trilogy of books in which Robert Adams explores the rapidly developing landscape of the Denver metropolitan area from 1968 through 1974. In What We Bought, Adams created a comprehensive document that was resolute in its avoidance of romantic notions of the American West and dispassionately honest about man’s despoliation of the land. The book demonstrates the artist at the height of his powers as a documentary photographer and a poetic sequencer of images.
The photographs show tract housing with mountain ranges in the distance, trailer lots devoid of people, suburban streets through generic windows, shopping mall interiors, and parking lots: subjects distinctly unspectacular, familiar, and banal. Adams’s compositions are straightforward and democratic, and it is this precise turn from sentimentality that has made Adams one of the most influential figures in the history of American photography. —the publisher