Fontana, California, from "The Fault Zone"

Accession Number

Fontana, California, from "The Fault Zone"

Joe Deal

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gold-toned gelatin silver print on paper

13 13/16 in. x 13 3/4 in. ( 35.1 cm x 35 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of The Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation, in memory of Morris D. Baker, a graduate of The University of Michigan School of Architecture, 1952

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2011
Joe Deal
United States, 1947–2010
The Fault Zone
Gold-toned gelatin silver prints
Gift of The Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation in memory of Morris D. Baker, a graduate of The University of Michigan School of Architecture, 1952, 2000/2.130
Joe Deal was part of a new generation of American photographers who pioneered an approach to landscape photography that came to be known as “new topographics.” Rejecting the romanticism of photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, they instead turned their attention to the effects of human activity on the Western landscape. In place of sweeping, pristine vistas, Deal and his contemporaries presented views of tract houses, industrial sites, and other nondescript scenes of suburban sprawl. By shooting the photograph from a high, distant vantage point, Deal eliminated the horizon line and the clues it gives to scale and orientation. The result is a pictorial space in which each element is given equal weight, each detail is just as important as the next. This almost clinical approach reflects Deal’s desire to minimize the effects of his own personal preferences and moral judgments on the work; he has stated he wants each photograph to serve “as a plate on which to serve up the subject matter.” Yet despite their seeming neutrality, there is an underlying politics to these deadpan views of various points along the San Andreas fault line in Southern California, which juxtapose the hasty activities of human beings with the long, slow processes of geologic transformation.

Physical Description
This is a black and white photograph depicting two sides of a rural road running through the upper portion of the work. In the foreground, where the viewer stands, is a grassy hillside that slopes downward toward the road. There are some small skinny trees, large boulders and rocks. In the background there are low lying buildings, telephone poles and rows of cultivated trees.

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