Joe Deal
New Topographics 1974-1977

April 27 — June 24, 2006


In 1975, the landmark exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape opened at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Joe Deal and colleagues Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, and Henry Wessel rejected the romanticism of their predecessors and attempted to achieve a more accurate depiction of contemporary society by framing their images with emotional indifference. Deal's photographs of suburban encroachment on nature dispelled the myth of the American West as an untamed wilderness, and demanded that we question the outcome of rampant commercial development. As curator William Jenkins explains, the new generation of photographers included in New Topographics were "anthropological rather than critical, scientific rather than artistic." The clinical examination of the tenuous relationship between humans and their environment seen in the images of the New Topographics in the 1970s resurfaced in the work of Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Mark Klett, and Richard Misrach.

New Topographics 1974-1977 revisits many of the photographs Joe Deal included in the 1975 exhibition, including images of Boulder City and Albuquerque. Also featured in the exhibition will be later images of Rochester, New York and California. Viewed collectively, the works exhibited will celebrate Joe Deal's contribution to the enduring impact of the New Topographics.

Joe Deal was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1947. He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1983) and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977, 1980). Joe Deal's photographs are included in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles; and in the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. He has served as Provost at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1999.