Arizona's Grand Canyon—natural wonder, national park, tourist attraction,
sacred land—is perhaps the world's best “photo op.” The
collaborative photographic team of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe have set out to
explore this celebrated place of dramatic beauty, and Phoenix Art Museum is
proud to be the first to show a comprehensive look at their powerful, thoughtful,
and playful approach to the Grand Canyon.
Drawn from two seasons of fieldwork, Charting the Canyon will include about 30 photographs ranging from a modest 20 by 20–inch print to a panorama nearly 10 feet wide. Mark Klett, a Regents Professor at Arizona State University, and Byron Wolfe, a former student of Klett’s who is now a Lantis’ University Professor teaches at California State University at Chico, have been interested in rephotographing historic images since their collaboration began in 1997.
Now the pair combines their own color photographs with imagery by 19th-century
photographer J. K. Hillers and artist William Holmes and by Ansel Adams and
Edward Weston, who worked at the Canyon in the early 20th century. Klett and
Wolfe respond to the historic images and the Canyon itself, yielding artworks
that reconsider an icon, challenge how we perceive the land, and bring a new
perspective to its portrayals.
Charting the Canyon offers visual delights: the humorous layering of a 19th-century drawing with contemporary photographic details, the extension of an Ansel Adams view into a serene panorama, and the illusion of three-dimensions with a stereopticon viewer built for the twenty-first century, among others to be discovered in this unique exhibition.