Jeff Brouws: Silent Monoliths: The Coaling Tower Project - Jeff Brouws

Jeff Brouws: Silent Monoliths: The Coaling Tower Project

Jeff Brouws

ISBN: 9783958295544
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 2019


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For any number of books, anywhere in Australia

Jeff Brouws has spent the last 30 years photographing various aspects of the American cultural landscape, often assembling typologies of common architectural forms in everyday environments. In Silent Monoliths he documents a variety of concrete coaling towers standing dormant in isolated brownfields or along active railroad lines. Built between 1907 and '56 these remnants of railroading's past were once used to dispense coal into steam locomotives. Seemingly impervious to the vicissitudes of time, decay or outright removal, these sculptural examples of former industrial brawn recall an earlier technological era most of us never witnessed. Because of this we glimpse-in real time-what Walker Evans once termed the "historical contemporary" of the modern world. Brouws practices an evidentiary form of photography, taking stand-alone portraits of coaling towers in homage to Hilla and Bernd Becher, as well as wider views revealing their broader contexts and landscapes. These two approaches reflect his dual interests in the New Topographics from the 1970s, as well as the compiling of typologies-a style of image making with historic roots traceable to the invention of photography itself as seen by Louis Daguerre's photo of his fossil collection and William Henry Fox Talbot's botanical photograms. Brouws' coaling towers emerge in dialogue with these nineteenth- and twentieth-century predecessors. In Brouws' exceptional artistic and documentary project, he discovers beautifully unexpected architectures. They rise with vitality over present and absent railways, locating a landscape of transformation. Born in San Francisco in 1955, Jeff Brouws is a self-taught photographer. His work is held in important collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University and the Princeton University Art Museum. Brouws is the author of seven books including Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations (1992) and Approaching Nowhere (2006).

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