A portfolio of twenty photographers' images of
American highways, streets and roadside attractions

Click any photograph to see a larger version.

Henry Wessel, Jr.
Roger Minick

Mark Klett

Harold Jones

Frank Gholke

Jim Alinder

Nathan Lyons

Tod Papageorge


Robbert Flick

Elaine Mayes

Steve Fitch

Barbara Crane

Michael Becotte

Michael Bishop

Ken Brown

Robert Fichter

Joel Sternfeld

Victor Landweber

Robert Widdicombe

Barbara Jo Revelle


American /Roads Portfolio
Boxed set of 20 photographs
  Landweber/Artists published American Roads, 1981, in an edition of one hundred boxed sets of original photographs. Prints were made in various photographic media, signed by the artists, and either sized 16"x20" or presented in 16"x20" museum-board mats. The portfolio comes in a custom-designed solander case with a copy print of a Dorothea Lange photograph affixed to its lid. The prints are protected in individual folders imprinted with the artist's name. A 16"×20", eight-page colophon includes a copy print of a Walker Evans photograph mounted on its cover, a short story, “Records of a Travel-worn Camera,” by James R. Hugunin, a sequence of the photographs by Nathan Lyons, an index to the prints, biographical data about the artists, and a map that shows where the photographers were living and where each photograph was made.

 Roger Minick, Airstream at Monument Valley, Arizona, 1979, black-and-white silver print
 Mark Klett, Storm Clouds over Eastern Idaho, near Craters of the Moon, 1980, black-and-white silver print
 Henry Wessel, Jr., Tucson, Arizona, 1974, black-and-white silver print
 Harold Jones, Baptism, Sabino Canyon, Tucson Arizona, 1976, black-and-white silver print
 Frank Gohlke, Aerial View, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1981, from Tulsa International Airport mural commission, black-and-white silver print
 Tod Papageorge, Burbank, California, 1973, black-and-white silver print
 Jim Alinder, A Joy Forever, Roadside, Florida, 1974, photographed at the side of an inland two-lane blacktop between Key West and Disney World, black-and-white silver print
 Nathan Lyons, untitled, 1968, Vancouver BC and 1969, Los Angeles, California, from his book Notations in Passing, black-and-white silver prints
 Robbert Flick, East of Lancaster, along Highway 14, California, (SV044/81), 1981, from "Sequential Views" series, black-and-white silver print
 Elaine Mayes, Pegasus, 1972, photographed on the New York Thruway, I-87, black-and-white silver print
 Barbara Crane, Bus People, 1975, from Baxter/Travenol Laboratories mural commission, printed from negatives made in the vicinity of Chicago, Illinois, black-and-white silver print
 Steve Fitch, Dinosaur, Highway 40, Vernal, Utah, 1974, from his book Diesels and Dinosuars, sepia-toned silver print
 Michael Becotte, untitled, 1974, from his book Space Capsule, photographed on the northern East Coast, sepia and gold-toned silver print
 Michael Bishop, untitled, 1974, (74-1107), photographed at the side of U.S. 1, Los Angeles, California, Ektacolor print
 Ken Brown, Pink Trailer Tilt, 1976, near Cherokee, North Carolina, Ektacolor print
 Robert W. Fichter, Air Power, 1979, Tallahassee, Florida, black-and-white silver print with air-brushed color and rubber stamps
 Joel Sternfeld, Exhausted Renegade Elephant, Woodland, Washington, 1979, Ektacolor print
 Victor Landweber, S.N. Ward and Son Mobil Service, Pasadena, California, 1978, photographed at the side of Highway 11, Cibachrome print
 Barbara Jo Revelle, untitled, 1981, Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, Ektacolor print
 Robert A. Widdicombe, Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, 1979, photographed at the side of U.S. 66. Ektacolor print

 A sequence of images by Nathan Lyons

A significant addition to this portfolio is the order for the images, as determined by Nathan Lyons. Acknowledged as a contemporary master of the photographic sequence, Mr. Lyons' photography and teaching have widely communicated the expressive potential of a tightly organized series of photographs. Though every portfolio will surely evolve into the order preferred by its owner, Lyons' arrangement of these pictures offers a high standard of sensitivity to their interrelatedness.
In a photographic sequence, the space between the pictures takes a role, balanced against the images themselves. It is in the gaps that links of affect, meaning, form and color are found, defining connections between related images. The selection of one photograph to follow another reveals this latent complexity, a powerful opportunity for the expression of intelligent sensibility. Lyons, who has devoted much of his attention in photography to the sequencing of photographs, appears clearly the heir to a tradition of innovative thought about how a series of images can be organized into a coherent expression. The book of his photographs, Notations in Passing, 1974, is a sequence of 97 images, selected and arranged to suggest a commentary on the post-industrial transformation of public space. An enigmatically serious book of cool observations and ambiguous, recurrent imagery, it offers visual evidence for a society which has spread everywhere yet is falling apart.
For thirty years prior, the photographer Minor White had been creating shorter sequences of photographs, passing on the tradition of another kind of enigmatic image. In his sequences he developed his notion of "equivalence," an idea about the correspondence between form and feeling, an extension of an earlier concept espoused by Alfred Stieglitz. In photographing clouds, Stieglitz had intended to communicate specific emotional states which, by his own reckoning, he was successful in doing. White, finding potent abstraction in natural forms, intended nothing so specific. His interest was in creating images that could offer the viewer access to that part of his own experience which might be touched by a photograph or a series of photographs.
The images of Lyons’ Notations are cool beyond the implication that they ought to serve as equivalents for the photographer’s or viewer’s emotions. That they may do so, that any photograph may do so, is evident, but here it seems entirely beside the point. Instead, his images function metaphorically—the photographer’s "notations" of social artifacts, and are to be read in the context and order in which they appear.
Like Robert Frank's masterly photographic sequence, The Americans, 1958, Lyons' treatment is social, but unlike Frank, he is not a documentarian in the sense that being a socially conscious photographer might imply. Lyons' innovative contribution is, rather, one of structure, of the integration of several levels of meaning into a complex flow of visual information. Drawing on his predecessors' work with sequenced imagery, on literary form and on cinematic editorial style, Lyon's book addresses a mélange of ideas: the formal relationships between images which progress from page to page; the idea of an “introduction” and divisions into chapter-like sections; images that recur as a leitmotif; and the simultaneous development of several ideas at once in what he calls "counterpoint."
In discussing the process of creating an order for the pictures in the American Roads portfolio, Mr. Lyons indicated that he felt his primary responsibility was to the artists—not to editorialize at their expense and not force any image into a context that would go against the artist’s intent. His first concern was to find a progression that would give emphasis to each image, supporting the artist’s integrity as expressed in his individual piece. "Each photograph," he stated, "must stand alone, with the arrangement working in an overall sense to integrate the entire group."
After four hours of "pushing things around," he was satisfied with this result. "With photographs by twenty different photographers," he commented, "it’s impossible to structure a true sequence. Had I been able to choose the images, I would have had more latitude. The overall theme of the portfolio is the controlling factor, limiting the kinds of sub-themes that can be developed.
"The Minick is a good first print, combining interesting subtle things: the car motif; the elegant mechanistic quality of the trailer in the landscape. The Klett is a countermove to the Minick, with the introduction of his written text and the reverse placement of the car. The progression of format (rectangle, panorama, multiple image, use of text) and formal structure within the frame help make sense out of the flow of images as it continues. Alinder’s use of text forms a counterpoint to Klett’s; the Mayes and Fitch photographs counterpoint the Flick and Crane. That is, they reiterate a visual idea through change and not direct repetition.
"I’ve also had to deal with the multiple problems of integrating color and black- and-white. Putting one of the color prints against any of the black-and-white’s doesn’t seem to work. What's needed is a carefully graded progression from black-and-white to color to carry off the shift of attention. Becotte's toned print, restating the image of the road, initiates the shift, making easy the transition to Bishop’s simple palette. The pink in Ken Brown’s image reiterates the overall pinkish tone of Becotte’s, and the limited hand-coloring of Fichter’s photograph refers back to the simplicity of Bishop’s. The Sternfeld, Landweber and Revelle are linked by the intimation of danger on the road. And the series is climaxed by the ambiguous, monumental finality of Widdicombe’s image, its elegant color returning us to the elegance of Minick’s first black-and-white."

—Victor Landweber, 1981