“Joy rides, voyages of discovery, surveys, wanderings, migrations, polemics, travel diaries, and assessment of the nation. Is America even imaginable without the road trip?”

    —David Campany



The road trip is an enduring symbol in American culture. Ever since cars became widely available, the road stretching over the horizon has represented a sense of possibility, freedom, discovery, and escape—a place to get lost and find yourself in the process. The American road trip has appeared prominently in literature, music, and movies, but it has had an especially powerful influence on photography. As photographers have embarked on trips across the United States with the express purpose of making work, they have created some of the most important photographs in the history of the medium.

The Open Road explores the photographic road trip as a genre. It traces the rise of road culture in America and considers photographers on the move across the country and across the century, from the mid-1950s to present day. Beginning with Robert Frank’s seminal odyssey, The Americans, and including such renowned work as Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Inge Morath’s The Road to Reno, Lee Friedlander’s American Monument, Garry Winogrand’s 1964, Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects, Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places, and Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, The Open Road is a visual tour de force, presenting the story of photographers for whom the American road is muse.


The Open Road is curated by David Campany and Denise Wolff, and is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York.


This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts


List of venues and dates:


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
February 27, 2016 – May 30, 2016

Detroit Institute of Arts
June 17, 2016 – September 11, 2016

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida
February 11, 2017 – June 4, 2017