Readymades: American Roadside Artifacts

Overview

Jeff Brouws has crisscrossed the country for two decades, documenting an America that is at once quintessential and peculiar. Readymades is a quirky, multi-layered catalog of this ascendant photographer's work: partially painted pickup trucks, bowling alley signs, vibrant-hued houses that defy the monotony of the suburbs, abandoned drive-in movie theaters. Brouws treats his subjects as readymade art found in the landscape, brought together to create an idiosyncratic roadside panorama. Provocative essays by ...
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Overview

Jeff Brouws has crisscrossed the country for two decades, documenting an America that is at once quintessential and peculiar. Readymades is a quirky, multi-layered catalog of this ascendant photographer's work: partially painted pickup trucks, bowling alley signs, vibrant-hued houses that defy the monotony of the suburbs, abandoned drive-in movie theaters. Brouws treats his subjects as readymade art found in the landscape, brought together to create an idiosyncratic roadside panorama. Provocative essays by leading writers and cultural commentators such as Luc Sante, DJ Waldie, M. Mark, Diana Gaston, Bruce Caron, and Phil Patton are juxtaposed with these images of all that is unique in the uniform, and striking in the mundane.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readymades: American Roadside Artifacts" is a catalog of ordinary objects found along the roadside that represent everyday America. Those objects are shown in 274 color photos by Jeff Brouws, with essays and commentary by several contributors.
The pages of this chunky. little book open, to reveal abandoned gasoline stations and abandoned drive-in movies, some whose silver screens have been worn to their bare bones. Everything in this book appears abandoned, as no people are in sight. However, there are plenty of partially painted pickup trucks, freshly painted houses (in lavender, turquoise, fuchsia, fire-engine red and bubble-gum pink) and railroad freight cars woefully in need of paint.
Signs of various types - on poles, individual letters affixed over doorways, and faded paint on walls - document daily life as they identify motels, bowling alleys, coffee shops, bus depots and locksmiths.
Signs point the way to "Quality Parts," "Immediate Marriage" and "Useable Materials" - whatever they are - just as "Readymades" leads readers to unusual views of American life found off the interstate and just down the road a piece. - Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
Readymades: American Roadside Artifacts is the happy result of Jeff Brouws's fascination with American detritus or, more accurately, what we might think of as detritus until Brouws's photos make us see how a rusted trailer, a ruined gas station or a pickup truck displaying the traces of a half-dozen paint jobs can be an object of beauty. — Francine Prose
Publishers Weekly
"Partially Painted Pickup Trucks," "Storage Units," "Abandoned Drive-Ins," "Bowling"-in captionless photographic chapters, this long, postcard-shaped book is a clean visual meditation on the United States as man-made artifact. Brouws (Inside the Live Reptile Tent), whose photographs are in the collections of the Whitney and the J. Paul Getty museums, has traveled the country riffing on simple roadside themes, uniting them here under Duchamp's post-modernist aegis. While far from Duchamp's spirallingly ironic meditations on formalism, Brouws's photos do form a subtle meditation on time and culture. Two pages of freight cars seem nearly identical except for the amount of rust on each. A chapter called "Freshly Painted Houses" offers beautiful images of houses above paint chips with names like "serenity" and "tawny taffy." Luc Sante (Low Life) sets up "Abandoned Drive-Ins," and M. Mark (a founder of the Village Voice Literary Supplement) tells of her own experiences with "Farm Forms." There is an homage to Ed Ruscha's gas stations, introduced by Brouws, who says that the gas station was his "first true `hang out,' a place to feel my coming manhood and be in the company of men who were good with their minds and hands." As curator Diana Gaston (Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye) writes in her introduction, there is "a fondness for the unabashed attempts at survival that [Brouws] finds in these remote places"-and his pleasure in collecting them is apparent throughout the book. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This quirky little book offers a whimsical and occasionally touching look at the vanishing features of roadside America. The color and black-and-white photographs by Brouws (Inside the Live Reptile Tent) are grouped into several curious categories, starting with "Freshly Painted Houses" and concluding with a breathtaking survey of-what else?-"Mini-warehouses." Sandwiched in between are several other humorous series: language on advertisements, abandoned drive-ins, barns (and other farm buildings), pickup trucks, deserted gas stations, freight cars, house trailers, and bowling alleys. Brief commentaries by such writers as Luc Sante, M. Mark, and Diana Gaston accompany the distinctive, beautifully rendered photographs. The book's dimensions (6" x 9") are appropriately small, not much larger than a postcard, yet this is a substantial catalog of found objects and architectural details. There is a pleasantly nostalgic feel to most of the images as the once-jarring advertisements now fade back into the landscape. Beautifully printed and reasonably priced, this enjoyable book is recommended for both photography and popular American culture collections in public and academic libraries.-Raymond Bial, Parkland Coll. Lib., Champaign, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811836777
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Brouws who has been photographing American culture over the last 15 years. His previous books include Highway: America's Endless Dream and Twenty-six Abandoned Gasoline Stations. He lives in upstate New York.
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