Meaningful Places: Landscape Photographers in the Nineteenth-Century American West

Meaningful Places: Landscape Photographers in the Nineteenth-Century American West

by Rachel McLean Sailor


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The early history of photography in America coincided with the Euro-American settlement of the West. This thoughtful book argues that the rich history of western photography cannot be understood by focusing solely on the handful of well-known photographers whose work has come to define the era. Art historian Rachel Sailor points out that most photographers in the West were engaged in producing images for their local communities. These pictures didn't just entertain the settlers but gave them a way to understand their new home. Photographs could help the settlers adjust to their new circumstances by recording the development of a place—revealing domestication, alteration, and improvement.

The book explores the cultural complexity of regional landscape photography, western places, and local sociopolitical concerns. Photographic imagery, like western paintings from the same era, enabled Euro-Americans to see the new landscape through their own cultural lenses, shaping the idea of the frontier for the people who lived there.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826354228
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Publication date: 03/01/2014
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rachel McLean Sailor is an assistant professor of art history at the University of Wyoming.

Table of Contents

Illustrations xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

Chapter 1 Daguerreotypy and the Landscape: Thomas Easterly, St. Louis, and the Big Mound 1

Chapter 2 Landscape Cartes de Visite: Joel Whitney, Hiawatha, and Minnehaha Falls 27

Chapter 3 Wet Plate Collodion and Western Monuments: Peter Britt and Crater Lake 55

Chapter 4 The Photographic Album: Solomon Butcher in Custer County, Nebraska 77

Chapter 5 Performing the Pioneer: The Kolbs, the Grand Canyon, Photographic Self-Representation, and Moving Pictures 105

Chapter 6 Frontier Photography and Early Modernism: Ansel Adams's Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail 135

Afterword 161

Notes 167

Bibliography 181

Index 201

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