Dec 19, 2006

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon


Alvin Langdon Coburn

(British, 1882–1966)

Platinum print

Image: 41 x 31.4 cm (16 1/8 x 12 3/8 in.); Mounted: 42.1 x 32.1 cm (16 9/16 x 12 5/8 in.); Matted: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.51



Alvin Langdon Coburn's innovative spirit, breadth of subject matter, and technical mastery of complex printing processes established him as one of the most important photographers active in the early 20th century. In September 1911, he took the first of two journeys to the Grand Canyon, which for him was "one of the most impressive natural wonders of the world." In this composition, Coburn eliminated the horizon line and created a flattened, abstracted view by pointing his camera straight down and by using a long lens that foreshortened the depicted space. He skillfully captured the exact moment when clouds silhouetted the foreground rock formation while the distant canyon remained sun bleached, thus establishing a brilliant contrast of overlapping forms. The print, with its gradation of tones, remains one of the most poetic and artistic renderings of this natural monument in the history of photography.


The Grand Canyon
Alvin Langdon Coburn
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