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Joel Sternfeld (born June 30, 1944) is a fine-art color photographer noted for his large-format documentary pictures of the United States and helping establish color photography as a respected artistic medium. He has many works in the permanent collections of the MOMA in New York City and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He has influenced a generation of color photographers, including Andreas Gursky, who borrows many of Sternfeld's techniques and approaches.


Life and workEdit

Sternfeld earned a BA from Dartmouth College and teaches photography at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. He began taking color photographs in 1970 after learning the color theory of Johannes Itten and Josef Albers. Color is an important element of his photographs.

American Prospects (1987) is Sternfeld's most known book and explores the irony of human-altered landscapes in the United States. To make the book, Sternfeld photographed ordinary things, including unsuccessful towns and barren-looking landscapes.

On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam (1997), is about violence in America. Sternfeld photographed sites of recent tragedies. Next to each photograph is text about the events that happened at that location.

From 1991 to 1994 Sternfeld worked with Melinda Hunt to document New York City's public cemetery on Hart Island, resulting in the book "Hart Island" (1998).[1]

Sternfeld has also published books about social class and stereotypes in America (Stranger Passing (2001)), an abandoned elevated railway in New York (Walking the High Line (2002)), and Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America (2006).

When It Changed (2007) contains close-up portraits of delegates debating global warming at the 2005 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal.[2]




  • Campagna Romana: The Countryside of Ancient Rome. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. ISBN 978-0-67941-578-7.
  • Hart Island. Zurich, Berlin, New York: Scalo, 1998. ISBN 978-3-931141-90-5. Includes a text by Melinda Hunt.
  • Treading on Kings. Göttingen: Steidl, 2003. ISBN 978-3-88243-837-6.
  • When It Changed. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 978-3-8652-1-278-8.
  • Sweet Earth-Experimental Utopias in America. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86521-124-8.
  • Oxbow Archive. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86521-786-8.
  • iDubai. Göttingen: Steidl, 2010. ISBN 978-3-86521-916-9.
  • First Pictures. Göttingen: Steidl, 2011. ISBN 978-3-86930-309-3.
  • Walking the High Line. Göttingen: Steidl, 2012. ISBN 978-3-86521-982-4.
  • On This Site: Landscape in Memorian. Göttingen: Steidl, 2012. ISBN 978-3-86930-434-2.
  • Stranger Passing. Göttingen: Steidl, 2012. ISBN 978-3-86930-499-1.
  • American Prospects. New York, NY: Distributed Art Publishers / Göttingen: Steidl, 2012. ISBN 978-3-88243-915-1.
  • Rome After Rome. Göttingen: Steidl, 2018. ISBN 3958292631
  • Landscape as Longing: Queens, New York. Göttingen: Steidl, 2017. ISBN 3958290329.


  1. ^ Hunt, Melinda; Joel Sternfeld. Hart Island. ISBN 3-931141-90-X.
  2. ^ "Joel Sternfeld's best photographs – when climate change sinks in", The Guardian. Accessed 20 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Farbfotografien seit 1970". Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Exhibition: 'Joel Sternfeld – Color Photographs since 1970' at Foam, Amsterdam". Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Joel Sternfeld – Farbfotografien seit 1970". Retrieved 13 April 2017.

External linksEdit