The Open Road: Photography and the American Roadtrip

Authored by David Campany.

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After World War II, the American road trip began appearing prominently in literature, music, movies and photography. As Stephen Shore has written, Our country is made for long trips. Since the 1940s, the dream of the road trip, and the sense of possibility and freedom that it represents, has taken its own important place within our culture. Many photographers purposefully embarked on journeys across the U.S. in order to create work, including Robert Frank, whose seminal road trip resulted in The Americans. However, he was preceded by Edward Weston, who traveled across the country taking pictures to illustrate Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass; Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose 1947 trip through the American South and into the West was published in the early 1950s in Harper's Bazaar; and Ed Ruscha, whose road trips between Los Angeles and Oklahoma formed the basis of Twentysix Gasoline Stations. Hundreds of photographers have continued the tradition of the photographic road trip on down to the present, from Stephen Shore to Taiyo Onorato, Nico Krebs, Alec Soth and Ryan McGinley. The Open Road considers the photographic road trip as a genre in and of itself, and presents the story of photographers for whom the American road is muse. The book features David Campany's introduction to the genre and 18 chapters presented chronologically, each exploring one American road trip in depth through a portfolio of images and informative texts. This volume highlights some of the most important bodies of work made on the road, from The Americans to the present day.

Format: Hardback
Number of pages: 336
Publication date: 2014-09-01
Measurements: 10.4 x 12.1 x 1.6 inches
ISBN: 9781597112406


David Campany’s study of the great photographic odysseys across America reveals a country more diverse than ever.The Guardian
David Campany compiles a photographic boulevard of broken dreams running from the Swiss immigrant Robert Frank’s nomadic portraits of 1950s stragglers to the sinister 21st century manipulations of the team Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, who document roads that exist only in some collective hallucination.The New York Times LENS blog
The vastness is also erotic—it’s a void urban photographers and their subjects can disappear into.The New York Times LENS blog
By the end, you’ll feel as if you’ve been in the passenger seat for a page-by-page road trip of a lifetime.Los Angeles Times
From shots of Mount Rushmore and the Pacific Coast Highway to glimpses of everyday life at roadside motels and pit stops, the photos highlight Americans’ long-standing fascination with the road, as a window into both the country’s cultural life—with the car window as a literal frame—and its pioneering attitude.The Wall Street Journal

Authored by David Campany.

Historian David Campany is one of the best-known and most accessible writers on photography. He has published several books, among them Handful of Dust (2015), The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip (Aperture, 2014), Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (2013), and Photography and Cinema (2008). He contributes regularly to a range of publications, including Aperture and Oxford Art Journal.