Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Bowdoin College Museum of Art Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Cul de sacs: failed development. Estrella, 7/17/90

Advanced Search
Lat: Lng:


Mark Klett


Cul de sacs: failed development. Estrella, 7/17/90

Creation Date


Medium & Support

gelatin silver print


15 13/16 in. x 19 11/16 in. (40.2 cm. x 50 cm.)

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund

Please suggest keywords to describe this object. Separate multiple keywords by commas. Example: road,angel,technology,toy

The juxtaposition between the winding road and desolate desert landscape emanates an eerie aura. The scene is captured from a downward angle that excludes the sky, thus focusing our attention on the landscape. No human traces are left except for a stationary vehicle and few lampposts. The cactus is the only living thing left in the photograph, a native “civilian” of the desert.

The cul de sacs interrupt the serene beauty that once was the undisturbed desert. Civilization leaves ruin in its wake after its unsuccessful attempt to settle the parched land. The ongoing battle between civilization and nature, a common trope in Klett’s photography, is also at the heart of the frontier. The photograph subtly debunks the romanticized notion of a frontier that benefits from the symbiotic relationship between progress and nature. Instead this image reveals the continued hardships inherent to settling the American West.

Portfolios: OLD_FEATC|GOVT1031_181114|Elias|Weapons of the Weak   OLD_FEATC|EDUC2221_181025|Fay|Speech and Protest in America   FEAT|Art and the Environment