American, born 1947
From his unique aerial perspective as a pilot, Alex MacLean photographs the proliferation of parking lots, housing developments, and agricultural fields that embody the profound impact of human habitation on the Earth. For decades, MacLean has used his camera to document this American obsession with development, and the extent to which we have manipulated and transformed the environment. Drawing on his background in architecture and urban design, MacLean “seeks out odd occurrences in the physical landscape that serve as metaphors for shifts in societal values. These images tell important stories about our cultural standards.” His images are aesthetically seductive, defined by bold color, texture, and pattern, but offer a warning. The photographs depict a relationship that has reached a tipping point, an American way of life that is no longer environmentally sustainable.
In addition to his work being exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010, MacLean’s photographs have been exhibited widely in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, at such major institutions as the Centre Pompidou, the Menil Collection, Houston, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. MacLean has won numerous awards, including the 2009 CORINE International Book Award for OVER: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point, the American Academy of Rome’s Prix de Rome in Landscape Architecture for 2003-2004; and grants from foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation. MacLean’s work is included in noteworthy collections such as the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and the DeCordova Museum in Masschuttes, among others, and is the subject of eleven monographs. Alex MacLean lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts.