America’s open roads have inspired countless artists and writers, the expansive landscapes, the empty highways, roadside attractions, pit stops, the passing ghost towns, as significant, if not more so, than the eventual destination. This summer on Magnum Photos, we explore the American road trips made by Magnum photographers in order to understand why the idea of road tripping across America has captured the imagination of so many: this article inspired by Raymond Depardon‘s book Le Desert Americain is part of our On the Road series.
Raymond Depardon made three trips across America during 1982; the second trip was with close friend and colleague Olivier Froux, and the third, made after Froux’s death in that same year was something of a cathartic exercise.
“This was a mourning, a solitary journey, during which he followed the footsteps they had trodden together, a few weeks earlier, for Olivier’s first trip to the land of images: Los Angeles, Death Valley, John Ford Canyons, the beginning of the desert, Mexico,” wrote Serge Toubiana, a mutual friend of Depardon and Froux, in the foreword to Depardon’s book The American Desert. It comprises an edit of photographs taken that year, mostly driving across the empty expanses of America’s open highways. With the American landscape as background, the book celebrates Depardon and Froux’s friendship, and their shared love for image-making. Continue reading.