The Green X Means No

In the 1970s, landscape photography slipped off the tracks. Up to that point, it was all romantic depictions of ‘undisturbed’ nature. The problem, of course, was that there was very little truly undisturbed nature in the US. So a cadre of iconoclastic landscape photographers started to document nature along side with the things that disturbed nature. Signs, buildings, trash — the stuff the Romantics tried so hard to ignore and exclude from their images. These New Topographic photographers wanted to turn a dispassionate eye on the landscape, with no regard for ‘artistry’.

Which led to another problem. How the hell do you keep ‘artistry’ out of a world that’s filled with unintentional beauty? Nobody put that green tape on the door to make it pretty. Nobody painted those new yellow parking space lines with an eye toward color aesthetics. Nobody planted those yellow bollards to contrast with the blandness of the brick wall. And the pleasing curve of the power line shadows…they’re downright lyrical.

Nobody tried to create ‘artistry’ here. It’s unconscious, organically inorganic, unplanned — but there is beauty here. And Jeff Stewart saw it. Now we get to see it too.

Blog photograph copyrighted to the photographer and used with permission by All photographs used on are stored on and are obtained via the flickr API. Text is copyrighted to the author, greg fallis and is used with permission by Please see Show and Share Your Work