Publisher: Albuquerque, New Mexico and New York: Artspace Press and Castelli Graphics, 1980
Edition: 1st Edition
Condition: As New / Near Fine
Item #: 113085
First edition, first printing. Signed in black ink on the title page by Baltz (signed at the Galerie Thomas Zander in Cologne). Hardcover. Fine cloth, with photographically illustrated dust jacket. Photographs by Lewis Baltz. Essay by Gus Blaisdell (in English). Designed by Jack W. Stauffacher. 246 pp. with 102 duotone plates. 10-7/8 x 11-1/4 inches. This edition was limited to 3000 hardbound copies.
Includes copies of the original 1978 exhibition press releases from the Susan Spiritus Gallery and Castelli Graphics, New York.
[Cited in Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, The Photobook: A History, Volume II. (London and New York: Phaidon, 2006).
As New in Near Fine dust jacket (stray surface marks and wear to the extremities), in original publisher's shrink-wrap).
While Lewis Baltz is perhaps best known for his New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California series, Park City might be a better candidate as the magnum opus of the artist's early work. Not merely representative of the stylistic and conceptual framework of the photographic movement he helped to define, Park City is the single most exhaustive and far-reaching visual criticism of 1970s-era American real estate development: the book is thus the New Topographics document par excellence. The book's 102 plates (Baltz defines the Series as "a sequential work of 102 elements") first take the viewer through overall site views that set up a jarring contrast between the mountains (already carved up for the ski area) and the freshly built condominiums and houses that soon will take over the landscape.
Moving through the pages, the plates begin to focus more and more on the excavation and earth moving efforts that precede building; the mounds of earth, littered with construction debris, are but pitiful doubles of the mountains in the background. As Baltz takes us closer in, we can begin to discern the buildings themselves: dreadful echoes of The Tract Houses clumped together and rising ostentatiously from the once verdant valley floor. A little over halfway into the book, we're brought inside the still-under-construction homes, where images of more debris mingle with dingy interior views that invoke claustrophobia rather than inviting living spaces. A fireplace wall covered with a vapor barrier, too-small windows, miles of wood studs and endless drywall combine to suggest an oppressive blandness.
By the time one arrives at the book's final plate, a feeling of pity for the eventual inhabitants of these spaces begins to emerge. And in the final image, we see just how many of these properties have been sold on a map dotted with push pins of varying colors, indicating the status of each lot in the subdivision. Recalling the book's first plate, a distant view of the landscape dotted with structures, this map is a satisfying final image, in that it represents the complete transformation of the landscape into an abstract, flat object--not unlike Baltz's photographs themselves.
The centerpiece of a loosely conceived trilogy that began with the New Industrial Parks and ended with San Quentin Point, Park City embodies the best, most incisive and considered qualities of both, and stands as the finest publication by one of the most important of contemporary artists.
In his philosophical essay on the work of Lewis Baltz, Gus Blaisdell rigorously examines the very nature of photography and its relationship to the physical world. Blaisdell systematically unclutters and demystifies previous attempts at understanding photographs of the real world, representation and perception, stripping bare all "gobbledegook" and "rigamarole" of various intellectual stabs... and he does it in a way that invites the reader along on his mind-bending ride. That's Gus. No critical writer comes close. The essay is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in photography.
From the publisher: "During 1978 and 1979 Lewis Baltz, one of America's foremost contemporary photographers, undertook to document the building of a rapidly growing ski resort and second-home development east of Salt Lake City in Utah's Wasatch Mountains. His concern was to record the construction of Park City as an example of the urbanization of the American West. When Baltz first saw the landscape around Park City, it appeared utterly chaotic, devastated by decades of abuse and neglect. Littered with fragments of iron, glass, wood, and wire -- the residue of mining wastes abandoned years earlier -- much of the land could support only meager vegetation. The scene suggested the aftermath of cataclysmic, purposeless violence. During the two and one half years that Baltz photographed Park City, the wasteland was covered with houses and commercial structures; ironically these only increased the sense of starkness and desolation.
In Year of Decision: 1846 Bernard DeVoto wrote that vacant grandeur of the Western mountains gave Americans a new image of solitude. Baltz's Park City photographs can be viewed as a record of the terminal stages of individuality and isolation played out against an indifferent natural setting, the heroic landscape recycled as a recreational resource. Baltz's view of the landscape as real estate has produced a series of photographs that taken together demand consideration as art. Working serially, Baltz asserts, develops, and questions the ideas that constitute the multiple and contradictory themes of his images. These photographs were made in the extraordinary harshness and clarity of Park City's high-altitude light. Edges are brittle, distant objects unobscured by atmosphere, as in a vacuum. Each object stands discrete and disassociated from its surroundings. Interiors, too, share this airlessness, suggesting claustrophobia rather than shelter. Many of these images suggest something of the quality found in photographs made during unmanned space probes. In Baltz's photographs essential information is often conveyed through indirection, in details or in far-distant objects. In Park City, as in many of Baltz's earlier images, there is a continual tension between what the photographs describe and what they reveal."