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Abstract

During the 1960 – 1990 period, in spite of the psychological and economical fall-outs of the various wars (Cold War, Korea and Vietnam ) undermining L.B. Johnson’s hopes and plans for a Great Society and his War on Poverty, the American government used its world supremacy and the derived wealth acquired in the wake of W.W. II (the USA was the only western country whose industrial production was impacted positively) to finance popular housing, adult education (G.I. Bill), and the arts (N.E.A.). During those years photography crashed the doors of academia, museum and art institutions, and entered the art market. Landscape has always been a major genre in the American visual arts, from the paintings of the nineteenth century (the Hudson River School, the Luminists) to photography. An interesting synchronicity can be observed between the birth, growth and coming of age of both the medium and the country. Landscape photography participated in the creation of an American identity. A century later, during what we can now call the Golden Age of American landscape photography from New Topographics in the 1970s to the advent of color photography in the 1980s, photographers turned their lenses back toward the east at the damage done and the state of the landscape left behind. The production of wall-size prints followed, competing for attention with paintings on the walls of museums and galleries that welcome them. Since the Culture Wars of the late 1980s and the 1990s, and the defunding of the arts that ensued, the rest of the world has caught up, influenced by the traveling exhibitions and publications of that generation of American photographers.

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