SAVANNAH, GA (March 2018) This summer, visitors to Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center have the opportunity to explore art related to a particularly American experience—the road trip. The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip, opening May 25, 2018, presents photography of America along its highways and byways, capturing the changing landscape—both figurative and literal—shaped by the mid-twentieth-century rise of car culture and the burgeoning tradition of the American road trip.
The road trip is an enduring symbol in American culture. In the days since cars became widely available, the road stretching over the horizon has represented a sense of possibility and freedom, discovery and escape—a place to get lost and find yourself in the process. As photographers have embarked on trips across the United States with the express purpose of making work, they have created some of the most important photographs in the history of the medium.
The Open Road presents the story of the American road as inspiration for photographers who were able to capture iconic elements such as roadside motels, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, and theme parks, as well as the everyday America. Completed between 1955 and 2014, the images provide offbeat and personal reflections of the photographers’ journeys, including the people they encounter, car culture, roadside attractions, and more.
“Photography and the road trip are well suited for each other. As cameras became more portable and cars became more widely available, the open road allowed photographers to quickly and astutely capture the ever-changing landscape and diversity of American culture,” says Erin Dunn, Telfair Museums’ Assistant Curator.
Presented chronologically, the exhibition features around 100 photographs by nineteen photographers for whom the American road was muse. Beginning with Robert Frank’s seminal series The Americans (1958), and including such renowned work as Garry Winogrand’s 1964, Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects, William Eggleston’s Los Alamos, and Justine Kurland’s Highway Kind, the featured artists and road trips represent the evolution of American car culture, the idea of the open road, and how photographers embraced the subject of America in order to reflect on place, time, and self.
The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip will be on view at the Jepson Center from May 25–September 3, 2018.
Exhibition organized by Aperture Foundation, New York. David Campany and Denise Wolff, curators. The presentation of this exhibition at Telfair Museums is curated by Erin Dunn, Assistant Curator. This project is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Investment from the City of Savannah.
About Telfair Museums:
Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Telfair Academy. For more information, call 912-790-8800 or visit www.telfair.org.