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Roger Minick "Sightseer"

Roger Minick "Sightseer"

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From: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Original Limited Edition: 3
Exhibition: Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88.9cm x 243.84cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


You've seen them--stepping out of air-cooled coaches to snap a picture of landmarks, monuments, enormous balls of twine, or palaces made of corn. Sightseers. Photographer Roger Minick became fascinated by this particularly American creature while teaching a workshop in Yosemite National Park with Ansel Adams. He turned the subject into a series of photographs, one of which can be seen on 3 banners from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Photographer Roger Minick (b. 1944) has long been fascinated by people and their interaction with place. His series have included studies of main street's transformation by the mega mall and the precarious balance between the natural and the man-made world.

This banner features a photograph from his Sightseer Series. The concept for the series developed years before its completion when Minick was teaching at a photography workshop with Ansel Adams at Yosemite. The eager young students were all setting up tripods and waiting for the great Adams to bless their compositions before they snapped away. The results were staid and expected, each student's image a replica of the next's.

During all of this, Minick found his eye wandering from the natural monuments to the crowds of tourists. A continual flood of sightseers was coming and going, filling the parking lots with massive motorhomes, campers, station wagons, brightly colored outfits, and enthusiasm. In 1980, he set out on a road trip of the Western states to try and capture this group of avid tourists which he jokingly classified as the genus "sightseer Americanus."

His images from the series show everything from identically-dressed elderly twins before waterfalls to an obese man clad only in jogging shorts and sneakers as he walks past Glacier Point. Minick was continually looking for the common thread, the feeling or essence of why these people made these long trips in hot, uncomfortable conditions to stop for a minute or two before some landmark. In the end, he was reminded of religious pilgrimages in the Middle East and Asia. He describes his assessment of the American version as follows:

Amid the loud and garish array of costumes and consumer goods, of cars and campers and motor homes idling in nearby parking lots, people seemed not to be taking a trip just to make a trip, but to be participating in something that was both tangible and mysterious, something extraordinary-something, in fact, almost spiritual. Traveling to these sought-after destinations seemed a sort of ritual, and arriving a kind of reassurance, as if, at the moment of recognition, we are facing not only a shared American past and present, but perhaps a hopeful future.
The image on the banner is a detail of Minick's 1980 photograph Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, CA showing a humorous but poignant juxtaposition of the natural beauty of the waterfall with the kitschy tourist interpretation of the falls depicted on the woman's headscarf. Below the image in black text on a white band is the museum's acronym "LACMA". The other side of this banner is white with an orange circle containing a white star. Black text reads "Made in California/Sponsored by the S. Mark Taper Foundation/Through Feb. 25, 2001".

Ansel Adams also captured California's natural beauty.


This banner was displayed around Los Angeles to promote the exhibition, Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition was a comprehensive look at the past 100 years of art in California, and commemorated the 150th anniversary of California's statehood.

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