'...the mad road, lonely, leading around the bend into the openings of space toward the horizon.' Jack Kerouac, introduction to The Americans
Consolidated Freightways, Inc. began acquiring art in 1981 when the corporation moved its headquarters from San Francisco to the Stanford Industrial Park in Palo Alto. While the collection eventually included sculpture, paintings and works on paper, photography was its primary focus. The photographs span the period from 1929, the year of the company's founding, to the time of the collection's acquisition. They reflect the organization's role as a highly successful transportation company and portray the diverse American landscape, largely as it would be seen from highways and roads - literally 'from the cab of a truck.'
During the past six decades, the changing landscape of the United States has been defined and altered by the immense system of highways built to accommodate our travels. Photographers have then, of course, been moved in their very different ways to capture the phenomenon and peripheral consequences of the automotive cult.
Accordingly, the breadth of this collection is astonishing, with the inclusion of work by both well-established photographers, as well as lesser-known and emerging artists. Icons from the medium's history rub shoulders with far less familiar, yet no less compelling, images. There are shifts in approach and emotional texture from one work to the next. Yet the overall impression is of an extraordinarily thoughtful, well-focused and highly choreographed body of work.
The collection has been displayed and enjoyed by employees of the Consolidated Freightways' former parent company. Con-way Inc. and its visitors for almost thirty years. The organization has also strongly advocated wider public access to the photographs with generous loans to prestigious museum and gallery exhibitions. As the company has continued to expand and diversify, however, the relevance of the collection to its contemporary mission has become less salient. Christie's is therefore honored to offer Crossing America: Photographs from the Consolidated Freightways Collection, Part I.