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silent thunder from the series Niagara Sublime

© Estate of John Pfahl

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John Pfahl

American, 1939-2020

silent thunder from the series Niagara Sublime, 1994

chromogenic color print

Edition: 9/25

image area: 17 x 17 inches (43.18 x 43.18 cm); support: 20 x 24 inches (50.8 x 60.96 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Edmund Hayes Fund, 2001


More Details


signature, undated / back



Work Type

Chromogenic color print

Information may change due to ongoing research.Glossary of Terms

John Pfahl’s photographs pay homage to the American tradition of nineteenth-century landscape painting, especially the work of the Luminists and Hudson River School. Sometimes revisiting the same sites as his predecessors, Pfahl explores the ways in which such imagery is received in a modern context. The Niagara region is an area the artist has photographed extensively. Several years prior to the “Niagara Sublime” series, from which silent thunder hails, he photographed the Niagara River from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. 

Pfahl’s presentation of Niagara Falls is unlike the panoramic, majestic views we are accustomed to seeing. Instead, in “Niagara Sublime,” the artist presents the viewer with a vantage point that is void of trees, people, or buildings, offering up a more startling depiction of this natural wonder. According to the artist, “I was interested at the time in the idea of the sublime landscape . . . ‘an agreeable terror.’ And so I took a very long telephoto lens to thrust myself, as it were, into the Falls with my camera. And so it totally eliminated guard rails and so that one could have the feeling of terror from these photographs.” 

Label from Picturing Niagara, September 30, 2017–August 5, 2018

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