The World in a Few States
American photography has always been characterized by an intrepid spirit of exploration. Stuart Klipper, a prolific Minnesota photographer, follows in this great tradition. Known for his wide panoramic format, he has accomplished an impressive goal: photographs in all fifty states of the USA, and at all four points of the compass, from the grain elevators of North Dakota to the bayou of Louisiana, from the dairy farms of New Hampshire to the cattle ranches of Montana.
In possession of an adventurous spirit and a methodology reminiscent of early explorers like Carleton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan, Klipper shows us both the characteristics of the land and the human presence upon it – the places we build and the ‘paths’ we construct to get to them – roads, railways, bridges.
Klipper is widely recognized as a master of the panoramic format. He believes this more closely approximates normal human sight - namely our peripheral vision and natural “scanning” of the horizon. Klipper often employs a strong vertical element, such as a tree, fence, telephone pole, etc., dead center in the image, so that his panoramic photographs read like diptychs, encouraging the viewer to actively scan the photograph, viewing the right and left halves separately before stepping back and seeing them together again as a whole.
For nearly 30 years Klipper has been making photographs across the country, distilling and crystallizing the defining characteristics of American regions, or in Stuart’s own words, “scoping out the lay of the land and noting the hand of man.” This ever-expanding photographic treasure trove now numbers upwards of 30,000 images. The project was initiated in 1977 when Klipper was a participant in an N.E.A. supported group project coordinated by Ted Hartwell of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts called "The Minnesota Survey.” This was followed by a three-state corporate art commission in 1980. Today this work can be appreciated in Stuart Klipper: The World in a Few States.