Across the West and Toward the North

Norwegian and American Landscape Photography

Across the West and Toward the North compares how photographers in Norway and the United States represented the environment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when once-remote wildernesses were first surveyed, developed, and photographed. Making images while traversing almost inaccessible terrain—often on foot and for months at a time—photographers created a compelling visual language that came to symbolize each nation. 

In this edited volume, Norwegian and American scholars offer the first study of the striking parallels in the production, distribution, and reception of these modern expressions of landscape and nationhood. In recognizing how landscape photographs were made meaningful to international audiences—such as tourists, visitors to world’s fairs, scientists, politicians, and immigrants—the authors challenge notions of American exceptionalism and singularly nationalistic histories.

The book includes stunning photographs of mountainous landscapes, glaciers, and forests, punctuated by signs of human development and engineering, with more than one hundred rarely seen plates by photographers Knud Knudsen, Anders Beer Wilse, Timothy O’Sullivan, Charles R. Savage, and others.

Shannon Egan is director of the Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College and the cofounder and codirector of the art gallery Ejecta Projects. She has authored articles on photographers Edward S. Curtis and Jeff Wall, and co-authored the artbook Ejecta

Marthe Tolnes Fjellestad is the curator at Perspektivet Museum, Tromsø. She is coauthor of Starman—Sophus Tromholt Photographs 1882–1883, and coeditor of Library and Information Studies for Arctic Social Sciences and Humanities

Table of Contents:List of Plates
List of Figures
Foreword by Marthe Tolnes Fjellestad
1. Introduction: Views from Across the West and Toward the North
Shannon Egan
2. Ragged Places and Rugged Men: Photography, the American West, and Masculine Mettle
James R. Swensen
3. Traveling with Knud Knudsen: Roads and Railways in Norwegian Photography
Torild Gjesvik
4. Getting Soaked at Yellowstone: Photography and the Making of the Tourist Landscape
Elizabeth Hutchinson
5. Nature and Photography: Anders Beer Wilse’s Photographic Equivalents
Trond Erik Bjorli
6. Views Across Continents: Ten Photographs
Marthe Tolnes Fjellestad
7. Dwelling in the Photographic Landscape
Elizabeth Hutchinson
8. Lieutenant von Hahnke’s Ill-Fated Bicycle Trip
Marthe Tolnes Fjellestad
9. On a Summer Snowbank: A View toward the Glacier
Shannon Egan
10. Carl Abraham Pihl and Andrew J. Russell: Railway Landscapes
Torild Gjesvik
11. Landscapes with More than Mountains: Give and Take
James R. Swensen

Photographers’ Biographies by Shannon Egan and Marthe Tolnes Fjellestad
Select Bibliography
List of Contributors

Praise and Reviews:Across the West and Toward the North examines how Norwegian and American photographers pictured the landscape in a period of earthshaking technological transformation and expanding infrastructure. Shared artistic strategies are revealed through this smart cross-cultural study, which challenges entrenched notions that nationalism was uniquely expressed and understood in the landscape photography of each country. This book anticipates growing transna­tional scholarship resulting from the bicentennial commemoration of Norwegian immigration to North America in 2025.”
—Leslie Ann Anderson, Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs, National Nordic Museum
“This international collaboration reveals fascinating parallels among nineteenth-century American and Scandinavian landscape photographers whose shared motifs—sublime geological phenomena, ethnographic and landscape tourism, wayfarers, railroads, bridges, roads, and inhabited landscapes—affirm communal, transnational connections. Such images featuring environmental exploration and exploitation, underscoring the delicate balance of nature and culture, have lasting relevance.”
—Theresa Leininger-Miller, professor, Art History, University of Cincinnati
“Egan and Fjellestad's edited volume is a timely contribution to the history of photography that examines the shared, transnational impulses in white, predominantly male, Norwegian and U.S. photographic landscape representations and practices in a period of intrusive and often violent transformation of existing social-natural environments in both geographies.”
—Ingeborg Høvik, associate professor of art history, The Arctic University of Norway