American Monument.
Photographs by Lynn Davis. Text by Witold Rynczynski.
Monacelli Press, New York, 2004. 160 pp., 100 duotone illustrations, 9x10".

The word 'monument' brings with it a number of definitions, such as 'a structure that serves as a memorial,' 'a building of historical significance,' and the adjective 'monumental.' Lynn Davis has, over the course of her career, touched on most of these associations. Her 1999 book by Arena Editions included photographs of Cambodian Temples, ancient Egyptian structures, and icebergs off the coast of Greenland. This new monograph is limited, as its title implies, to America. And once again, her use of the word monument is broad. Her subject matter ranges from that which memorializes-the Jefferson Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and Mt. Rushmore-to buildings by famed architects-Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Richard Meier are included in this list. But by far the most interesting of her subjects are the anonymous buildings, signs, and structures that dot the landscape west of the Mississippi. The motel signs, highway gas stations, barns and grain elevators speak more to the innovative and indomitable spirit of American enterprise than some of the more obvious examples. And these remnants, while not specifically memorials, when gathered together in book form stand as a monument to our collective history.

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