Festival 1

An Artist Winces at the New Landscape: Lewis Baltz in the American West

Lewis Baltz (1945-2014) was one of the most important American artists to come to prominence in the 1970s. His work engaged with one of the richest themes in American art: The use of the landscape, particularly in the American West. Baltz's work, including series such as The Prototype Works (1969-76), The New Industrial Parks (1974), Nevada (1977), and Park City (1980) pointedly critiqued the way in which Western lands were consumed by development with little thought of sustainability or environmental protection, let alone how much growth the arid West could absorb.

 

It's been nearly a half-century since Baltz began his first series about land-use in the West. That makes now a good time not just to look back at those pictures, but to use them as an opportunity to consider how the issues related to aggressive residential and commercial development of the American West on which Baltz focused has played out.

 

The last major American Baltz exhibition, "Prototypes/Ronde de Nuit," was co-organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art in 2010.

 

The last major American Baltz exhibition, "Prototypes/Ronde de Nuit," was co-organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art in 2010.

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Idea No. 76