Photographs | September 2020 | Rebecca Rego Barry

A Fresh Look at Ansel Adams

© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Ansel Adams, The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942. Center for Creative Photography, Tucson.

A recently opened exhibition and a new book offer fresh perspective on Ansel Adams, the much admired (and highly collectible) photographer of the American West.   

This past weekend, Ansel Adams in Our Time went on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The exhibition takes one hundred of Adams’ most iconic works and displays them alongside both nineteenth-century predecessors and contemporary successors “who both influenced, and were influenced by, the legendary American artist.” The exhibition will remain up through January 3, 2021, after which it will travel to the Portland Art Museum for a spring run.  

There’s also a new book out on Adams titled Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams by Rebecca A. Senf, published by Yale University Press in association with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. Senf traces the first three decades of the artist’s practice, from an album he made in childhood to his national parks photography of the 1940s. These less well-known images, she argues, “are crucial to understanding Adams’s artistic development and offer new insights into many aspects of the artist’s mature oeuvre.” In both the book and the exhibition noted above, the photographer’s environmentalism is one area that takes on more significance, particularly as the effects of climate change become increasingly evident around us.  

Coming up this week, and then again in October, the author is participating in a few virtual events that may be of interest:

    •    September 23 at 6 p.m. (Eastern) — Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures in partnership with Silver Eye, PGH Photo Fair, and Carnegie Museum of Art
    •    September 24 at 5 p.m. (Eastern) — West Virginia University Museum of Art
    •    October 21 at 2 p.m. (Pacific) — Medium Summit – Ansel Adams and the YPCCO

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