In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams

Decades ago, the legendary photographer trained his camera’s eye on the University of California campuses and took hundreds of shots of UCLA. Much has changed since then — and much has not.

Fifty years ago, a bearded man with a Hasselblad stood on UCLA’s North Campus, his camera pointed at the new sculpture garden and the unfinished arts building. Born in San Francisco and famous for his dramatic images of Yosemite, Ansel Adams was the natural choice for “Fiat Lux,” an ambitious project to chronicle the University of California system in photos.

He didn’t stay at UCLA very long. “I found that working in a certain campus, in four or five days I was through for the time. I just couldn’t ‘see’ anymore,” Adams told an interviewer. Instead, he “pogo-sticked” (his words) all over the state for four years.

In the end, Adams cataloged more than 200 negatives of UCLA dated between 1964 and 1967, with the bulk of the work in fall 1966. Most of the time he worked alone, relying on natural light and spending a lot of time on hillsides and tops of buildings.

California native Kevin Cooley also likes to work solo and takes rooftops in stride. He was fascinated to see architectural shots by Adams, instead of the more familiar nature photos. And Cooley enjoyed searching for Adams’ vantage points. All over campus he found people eager to help — intrigued by Adams’ images and interested to see how much the surroundings had changed.

Today, the buildings Adams chose to shoot may seem an odd selection. But he visited the campus in a time of phenomenal growth: During the four years of “Fiat Lux,” enrollment grew from about 20,000 to almost 27,000. So Adams focused on the new buildings sprouting everywhere, especially on North Campus, where Chancellor Franklin Murphy had just begun the outdoor sculpture collection that bears his name. read more

Picture Desk: The Faraway

Georgia O’Keeffe and Orville Cox by Ansel Adams

In September, I took a trip to New Mexico with a friend. The expanse of sky in the Southwest was as much of an attraction as the green-chili peach pie, and we spent a great deal of time simply staring at it. Exploring Canyon de Chelly on horseback, I watched the clouds approach and grow dark.

The scene reminded me one of my favorite photographs, taken in 1937, by Ansel Adams. The photograph above (which I have tacked to my wall at home) shows the painter Georgia O’Keeffe engaged in conversation with Orville Cox, the head wrangler at Ghost Ranch, on the rim of Canyon de Chelly. Adams and O’Keeffe were part of a group of friends that had organized a monthlong camping trip, during which both artists created new work. Orville Cox acted as their guide.

The location of this photograph was of particular significance, with Adams once remarking, “Some of my best photographs have been made in and on the rim of the canyon.” Though Adams’s large-format photographs of American landscapes made him an icon, for me, this portrait of O’Keeffe and Cox is unsurpassable. read more

The real Ansel Adams

Alan Ross, who knew the genius and wicked humor of the famed photographer and environmentalist, exhibits work at Laguna gallery.

Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham

Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham by Alan Ross

One of Ansel Adams‘ pet peeves was when Alan Ross would forget to turn off a battery-powered digital thermometer in the dark room.

He communicated his displeasure about the batteries wearing out by leaving notes that read, “You left the thermometer on all night (sniff!!)” and “Naughty boy!!!!!! You didn’t turn the [expletive] thermometer off!!!!” Since Ross wasn’t accustomed to using a thermometer that needed turning off, he forgot — a lot.

When Ross followed through, though, Adams scribbled, “Dear Alan, I am peeved!! Disappointed, discouraged!!!! You did NOT forget to turn off the thermometer and I have nothing to gripe about! What is life without a gripe? Desolate, flat, etc. …”

These missives, exhibited at the Forest and Ocean Gallery along with candid shots of Adams dressed as Moses and another in which he is clowning around with a dark cloth, showcase the photographer and environmentalist’s gregarious nature. Titled “Alan Ross: The Ansel Adams Legacy,” the show features 11 black-and-white landscape images from the 26-piece collection “Yosemite Special Edition.” The pieces cost $300 when unframed and $395 with frames. read more

Adams’ ‘Masterworks’ as much history as art

There’s going to be a point when Ansel Adams’ photographs are more valuable as historical artifacts than they are as works of art, and that point might be now.

The photographs included in “Ansel Adams: Masterworks,” an exhibition currently up at the South Bend Museum of Art, are beautiful, but the collection speaks as much to Adams’ stature in America’s artistic and cultural history as it does to the aesthetic quality of the images in the show. They are wonderful photographs, to be sure, but they are also national treasures, and the exhibit is about their preservation.

The “Masterworks” collection is drawn from a set of images known as “The Museum Set,” a group of images that Adams himself gathered together before his death in 1984. Adams built the collection at the suggestion of Maggi Weston, owner of the Weston Gallery in Carmel, Calif., who in 1978 proposed that Adams choose a set that represented the best of his body of work and then make prints of the set that would be made available to museums around the country. read more

Black, white photos come to life in Ansel Adams exhibition

His photos are only two colors – black and white. They seem simple in this age of digitized photography. The truth, however, is the work of Ansel Adams revolutionized the craft of photography by delivering more than images but a message for a better world.

Today that message will arrive at Baylor. The Martin Museum of Art inside the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center will open its doors at 10 a.m. to showcase the traveling exhibition “Ansel Adams: Distance and Detail,” displaying the famous black and white photos of the late photographer…read more

Island imagery: Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii

AnselAdams_Buddhist Grave Marketings and Rainbow, Paia, Maui, HawaiiIs a rainbow still a rainbow if it’s in black and white? Or put another way, can photographs of people, manmade structures and urban settings really be by Ansel Adams?

The answer is clearly yes, judging by the photographer’s work in “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures,” on view July 18 through Jan. 12, 2014, at the Honolulu Museum of Art, and afterwards at the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. But this first paired exhibition of island imagery by the iconic artists of the West also raises interesting questions about their artistic responses to commercial assignments, as well as to the lush scenery and diverse humanity.

“They’re kind of linked in the popular imagination — they were friends and they both spent time in the Southwest, and the O’Keeffe Museum has done a show on the both of them, but never on the two in dialogue,” curator Theresa Papanikolas explains. “What differentiates this show is that it deals very much with the sense of place. We associate O’Keeffe with New Mexico, Adams with the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley, but what happens when they go to a place that they’re not associated with, that they haven’t been to. How do they get up to speed, and does the work have the same resonance with their audiences?” … read more


Ansel Adams: The drama and beauty of the American West


London (CNN) — Famed for his rugged, immense portraits of the American West, Ansel Adams regularly tops lists of the 20th century’s greatest nature photographers.

Adams has won countless awards, including the highest U.S. civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In his home country, he is one of the few photographers to have become a household name, following a 50-year career in which he captured some of the most iconic images of American National Parks and the country’s immense mountain ranges.

Today, he is rarely the subject of the intense, approving attention he once was during his lifetime — his endlessly reproduced photographs appearing to have lost the ability to enrapture and surprise viewers.

An exhibition at the UK’s National Maritime Museum in London plans to wash away viewer’s apathy. read more

Ansel Adams’ son on why the British landscape wasn’t ‘dramatic enough’ for his father

Michael Adams discusses why his father would have embraced digital photography but snubbed the aggressive stunts of environmental activists

How glorious would the British countryside have looked through the lens of Ansel Adams? The Glenfinnan viaduct swooping through the Highlands, the ancient crags of Dorset’s Jurassic coast, the rocky valleys of Snowdonia, the volcanic patchwork of the Giant’s Causeway – oh for exposures of them to have passed through the darkroom of the world’s greatest landscape photographer.

Click here to view a slideshow of Ansel Adams’ dramatic photographs

As it is, Ansel Adams remains famed for a single-minded devotion to capture the American wilderness on film right until his death in 1984. He visited the UK just once, in 1976, and never made it beyond the capital. Of his British holiday snaps, the most interesting images are of coats of armour in a museum somewhere.

His son, Michael Adams, suspects the British outdoors was not dramatic enough to lure his father away from the Yosemite waterfalls in California and the Grand Teton mountains in Wyoming. “I think he would have liked the British landscape,” says the 79-year-old diplomatically, but what really excited his father was “high mountains with glaciers and very rugged areas of the world”. read more

Dave Brubeck Receives Posthumous Grammy Nomination For ‘Ansel Adams: America’

Jazz great Dave Brubeck, who passed away yesterday, died hours before before receiving what a Grammy nomination, in the best instrumental category, for Ansel Adams: America, a symphonic piece inspired by Adams’ photogoraphs that he co-wrote with his son, Chris see the full story

Ansel Adams, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich/ Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour, Somerset House, review

Alastair Sooke reviews Ansel Adams at the National Maritime Museum and Cartier Bresson at Somerset House: photographs of the wilderness and city life

In the world of photography, Ansel Adams (1902-84) is practically a god. On the other side of the Atlantic, his famous black-and-white photographs of national parks in the American West are revered. During a career lasting almost seven decades, he secured a reputation as a visual poet of the wilderness as well as a tutelary spirit of American national identity. Some of his pictures, such as The Tetons and the Snake River (1942), seem precision-made for the overused adjective “iconic”.

Why, then, did I find myself resisting the allure of his photography as I wandered through a new exhibition of his work at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich? Let me try to explain.

The exhibition, which originated in Massachusetts, contains more than 100 original photographs demonstrating Adams’s lifelong obsession with water. The pictures are arranged thematically, so that images of, say, rivers, waterfalls, or the Californian coastline are grouped together. We see fierce rapids, streams stippled with sunlight, twisting columns of water in cascading freefall, and great salty spumes as waves explode against rocks.

read more at The Telegraph