The open American West is nearly gone. The New West is a photographic essay about what came to fill it – freeways, tract homes, low-rise business buildings, and signs. In five sequences of pictures taken along the front wall of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Robert Adams has documented a representative sampling of the whole suburban Southwest.
The views have a double power. At first, they shock; normally we try to forget the commercial squalor they depict. Slowly, however, they reveal aspects of the geography – the shape of the land itself, for example – that are beyond man’s harm. Adams has written that “all land, no matter what has happened to it, has over it a grace, an absolutely persistent beauty”; the photographs show this.
Originally published in 1974, The New West is now regarded as a classic book of photography, standing alongside Walker Evans’s American Photographs and Robert Frank’s The Americans in the pantheon of landmark projects exploring American culture and society.