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New! A bucking desert beacon by Carol M. Highsmith

Hacienda Horse and Rider, historic neon sign, Las Vegas, Nevada by Carol M. Highsmith
10"x8" ($40) | 14"x11" ($85) | 20"x16" ($275) 24"x20" ($675) | 40"x30" ($1,950) | 50"x40" ($5,000)

Photographer Carol M. Highsmith (b. 1946, North Carolina, USA) is an artist and historian of the highest order, and is one of the most prolific and dedicated photographic documentarians of America in the nation’s history. Highsmith has photographed work in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and has amassed a herculean portfolio that nears 100,000 photos, all of which she gifts to the Library of Congress. It is rare for that entity to create a one-person archive for a single artist’s work, but the Library of Congress has one for hers. Since 2010, she has dedicated herself to visiting and re-photographing at least eight states per year in order to keep her depictions of said states as current as possible within the context of her holistic body of work.

Whether capturing landscapes, man-made spectacles visible from the road (as with this image from 1980, Hacienda Horse and Rider, historic neon sign, Las Vegas, Nevada), rural structures or urban tangles of freeway, Highsmith’s eye spares no detail. She’s spent a lifetime absorbing her surroundings through the lens, thanks to a transformative trip to Siberia and China in the 1970s that she documented extensively. Thrilled with the process and the results and thinking back fondly to an upbringing with her photographer father, Highsmith was forever changed.

Hacienda Horse and Rider, historic neon sign, Las Vegas, Nevada is signature Highsmith. Her subject, a publicly viewable physical landmark that she knew was a disappearing kind of classic Americana, rears high in the sky above the madding crowd. The pitch-black sky that comprises the background of her composition places the bucking bronco and its rider as a constellation; a pointillistic riot of neon shooting through space, telling a tale of a moment in time when this was the kind of iconography that America was wild for. It is the brash, bold untamed glitz of Nevada’s casino culture writ large. The carousel-styled elegance of the stallion and the almost calm “Howdy!” raised-hand wave of its vaquero greets us; ropes us in. Who wouldn’t take a gamble under the vibrancy of this desert beacon? 

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Tags: new art