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Image of Gold Mine, Arizona 10363


Frederick Sommer (Angri, Italy, 1905 - 1/23/1999, Prescott, Arizona)


Gold Mine, Arizona

Creation Date



20th century


11 15/16 in. x 14 in. (30.4 cm. x 35.6 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

gelatin silver print

Credit Line

Gift of David P. Becker, Class of 1970


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

Viewed from a disembodied, bird’s-eye perspective, this bleak, skyless terrain seems to expand infinitely outward. Sommer’s unflinching photographic style is at odds with the view of the American West as a fertile and abundant land perpetuated by other artists. In fact, one early critic described Sommer as the photographer of the “anti-tourist West.” Sommer presents the Arizona landscape as a terrain vague. European surrealist artists and writers, who influenced Sommer, used this term when referring to the frontlines of battle or the outskirts of cities where transients lived outside the standard order of society. The jagged land formations caused by mining also recall the bombed landscapes of Europe, then ravaged by World War II. In this way, the Western terrain is a proxy for distant disasters.

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