Published: April 30, 2019
LAS VEGAS, NEV. – Smallworks Press announces the release of Motel Vegas, a new monograph documenting the rise and fall of Las Vegas’ iconic roadside motels by photographer and art historian, Dr Fred Sigman.
Motel Vegas is an ode to a bygone era and a reflection on America’s iconic automobile culture. Motels and auto-courts played a significant role in the development of car culture, especially with the advent of famed Route 66. The “Mother Road,” as it was known, unlocked the West for millions of Americans and intrepid travelers from around the world. Motel Vegas celebrates the praised architectural vernacular that once dominated Las Vegas’ skyline and served as the foundation for today’s mega-resorts.
The photographs were commissioned by New York gallerist and art dealer Ivan Karp. Karp was instrumental in the emergence of Pop art and the development of SoHo’s gallery district with notable artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. The large format photos from the most historic motel locations in Las Vegas and surrounding area in the book were originally exhibited in Karp’s O.K. Harris Gallery in New York.
Included in the book is an introduction by Scott Dickensheets, a prologue by publisher James Stanford and a foreword by Alan Hess, architectural historian and one of America’s preeminent authorities on Modernism, “The humble motel is the indispensable building block of the modern suburban metropolis, and no city built on this foundation more creatively than Las Vegas. At the heart of every mega-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip today you can see the innovative soul of the early motels on East Fremont (Street) seen in this book: a glorious sign evoking wonder and romance with the artful magic of neon and light, the welcome hospitality of a home away from home, the relaxation of a sun-drenched pool. The motel is a classic of modern architecture, and this book’s photographs document their dignity even after decades of neglect.”
Motel Vegas will be officially released to the public on May 25 with a formal reception, panel discussion and book signing with the author at the Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas. This event is free and open to the public.
Sigman is a photographer, art historian and adventurer. Born in Asheville, N.C., Sigman spent his early years growing up in his mother’s childhood home, until the age of 9, when they moved to Paris. As a young boy he attended boarding school at Notre-Dame de Boulogne and during these formative years living in Europe, he began to take photographs wherever they traveled. In France, he walked among ancient Roman ruins and found a world to himself in the woods of Boulogne and Fontainebleau. His teachers assigned the writings of Jean de la Fontaine and Charles Baudelaire that would help formulate his thinking, especially upon his arrival in the fabled and modern city where he would receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in Art History and Philosophy. Upon graduation he went on to complete his MA and PhD from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Sigman’s career would lead him to be one of the few photographers ever permitted to photograph inside of a casino. In addition, he went on to work as the archivist and photographer at the Las Vegas News Bureau, part of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which is renowned for the “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” marketing campaign. He has taught art history in various colleges and universities in the American Southwest. He has exhibited across the United States, including New York, Palm Beach, Las Vegas, San Diego, Albuquerque and internationally in Sweden and Mexico.
Today, Sigman continues photographing the world and dividing his time between his home in Southeast Asia, and frequent travels to Europe and the United States.
Motel Vegas. By Fred Sigman, with contributions by Alan Hess, Scott Dickensheets and James Stanford. Published by Smallworks Press, Las Vegas, Nev., 2019, 200 pages, $29.99 hardcover. The book will be available after April 12.
All photos by Fred Sigman
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