Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams

“Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams” presents a lesser-known dimension of celebrated photographer Ansel Adams’s body of work, and offers insight into a decisive and disquieting period in American history.

Vintage Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico Now Available Through The Ansel Adams Gallery

Price available upon request, contact Matthew Adams, President, at matthew@anseladams.com

I have had the great fortune of growing up in the family of Ansel Adams, and been exposed to his work all my life. This has formed my belief in Ansel’s comment that “Art has to do with beauty”, its purpose to uplift the soul. Beyond this regular exposure, I have been working closely with his fine art pieces for the past 25 years. I have seen a lot of original photographs, in Ansel’s studio, in the family collections, coming through The Ansel Adams Gallery, at museum exhibitions, and in photography auctions. I think it is possible, sometimes, to forget how special something is when you see it every day, but Ansel’s work has a staying power that few others’ have.

Ansel’s works are examples of human genius, demonstrated in terms of both the object – the physical presence and unique characteristics of a print – and the concept – the image composition, subject, and development that are roughly common to all examples of that image. I think it is quite fair to say that Ansel was an artist of a caliber of Rodin, Matisse, Picasso, Michelangelo. Not every work is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but every once in a while, you come across an example that quite simply confirms Ansel’s stature.

Camera Setup: "Sony A7R | NorthLight 600W", Artwork Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise.tif", Artwork Colors: "moonrise 47.ss3.txt", White Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1031 WC.tif", White Colors: "WC.ss3.txt", Yoked Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise_yoked.tif"

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico 1941

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is an image that Ansel recognized as important from the moment he first made it. He even wanted to make a duplicate exposure, but in the 20 seconds it took to insert the negative slide, pull the carrier, flip it over and reinsert it into the camera, pull the slide and cock the shutter, the light was gone. It was that close from never happening. But having a negative and being able to produce something with it are two different things. It is an extremely thin negative and was very difficult for him to print. As an example, according to John Sexton, his assistant in the 1980s, when Ansel was burning in the sky, he had to open up the aperture of the enlarger by 4 stops and give it up to 70 additional seconds, all while holding the exposure on the moon constant. This is after intensifying the negative in 1948 to make it easier to print. Ansel was able to print the negative prior to 1948, but it was even more difficult and there are very few examples extant. The commonly held belief is that there are possibly as few as 10 that were made prior to the intensification.

This vintage photograph has a known history from the early to mid 1950s, but was definitively made prior to 1948, perhaps as early as 1942. The print traces back to Carl Wheat, whose family believes he acquired it from Ansel or a 3rd party in the early 1950s. There is a letter from Ansel to Wheat dated 1956 referencing a Moonrise, however the date and suggestion of a gift is at odds with both his family’s recollection and physical evidence. From him it passed to his grandsons, and through two collectors to today. Until the research conducted this past Spring, the letter was considered to refer to the time the print was made. This research is definitive that the print was made prior to 1948, and possibly as early as 1942.

Most people are familiar with the dramatic, high contrast prints Ansel made late in his career. There seems to be a linear progression of how Ansel printed the sky over time, from light to dark, early to late. This print is on the extreme end of the lightness, and the softer contrast helps to create a photograph that has an overall luminosity that is rarely matched. The photographic paper gives it a patina unlike most of the pre-intensification prints I have seen, only the 1943 US Camera print at the Museum of Modern Art is similar.

The condition of the photograph is remarkable, particularly given that it was made approximately 70 years ago. The label on the reverse, typewritten with the title and date, appears to have been applied with too much moisture, which swelled the mount board and created a slight raised area in the print. Otherwise there are only minor areas where Ansel or an assistant etched the emulsion to remove dark spots from light areas.

The proof of creation date is interesting and incontrovertible, which is that the print shows the extent of retouching the negative, and the research shows the negative was retouched over time. Dust or lint on the negative at the time of exposure creates a clear spot in the emulsion, which shows as black on the print. In an area that is already dark on the print, there is no problem and it might not even be visible. In a light area, however, it shows up readily and can be distracting. One technique that Ansel used on this negative is called “needling”, which is to rough up the surface of the gelatin above the emulsion layer with a fine needle. This changes the angle of refraction, and reduces the amount of light going through the clear spot in the emulsion, making the dark spot on the print smaller and lighter. When the spot is away from the center of the image, there is a good chance of a halo effect, caused by the slightly different angle of light between the top and bottom of the negative. The needling is irreversible, and will show on all prints going forward. If the negative is worked on again later, it will change the halo permanently. The combination of working on different areas and working on the same area over time allows us to establish a time line of prints. The print in question here shows less work than prints produced in 1948 and similar amounts of work as prints in 1943 and 1942. That does not tell us exactly that the print was produced in 1942 or 1943, only that Ansel worked on the negative again at some point between 1942 and 1948, and this print was made prior to that time.

Camera Setup: "Sony A7R | NorthLight 600W", Artwork Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise.tif", Artwork Colors: "moonrise 47.ss3.txt", White Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1031 WC.tif", White Colors: "WC.ss3.txt", Yoked Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise_yoked.tif"

Wheat 194x

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McAlpin 1942

Getty 1948 vertical

Waters 1948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other evidence is suggestive of an early date, but not definitive:

  • The label on the reverse is typewritten with the year date of 1941. Ansel was notoriously bad with negative dates, and even by 1946 was misdating the negative as 1942. Several experts have commented that it must be early if Ansel got the date right.
  • During the course of research, I found very few prints with a similar mount in terms of weight, tooth, and an absence of a core. There were two smaller prints of different images from the Lane Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston that had a similar mount, both considered vintage but undated.
  • The label is identified as in use from about 1940 to about 1953 (Haas/Senf 2005). Having the label show through to the front because of too much moisture could indicate that at the time of application, it had not been used very often with this particular mount board.
  • As mentioned previously, there seems to be a linear progression of the sky being printed darker and darker over time. Again, this is a generality, but this print is on the light end of the scale of compared prints, even when considering only prints prior to intensification in 1948

All of the physical evidence is indicative of a range of dates from the negative date in late 1941 to a date prior to the intensification in 1948. There are several facts that suggest that it was printed around 1942 or 43. Moonrise, Hernandez has been researched extensively, and there are about 10 photographs known or suspected printed prior to intensification, including this photograph. The scarcity of these early examples of Moonrise contributes significantly to their value.

Even so, when we put so much emphasis on the print date, it is sometimes easy to forget the bigger picture, the work of art itself. And that this photograph is easily, in my opinion, the most beautiful example of Moonrise that I have ever seen. As Ansel said, Art is about Beauty. If any single photograph could immortalize an artist, this is it.

It is thus with great pleasure that I am able to announce this once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a most spectacular example of Ansel Adams’ most critically acclaimed photograph.

Price available upon request, contact Matthew Adams, President, at matthew@anseladams.com

Ansel Adams Collection Donated to Huntington Library

The Huntington Library is celebrating one of its newest additions – a complete collection of work from famed photographer Ansel Adams.

Adams was best known for his images of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, but his decades of work captured much more than that. From 1948 to 1976, Adams created seven limited edition portfolios all containing a dozen or more photos.

Barbara Barrett-Byrne said her late husband George collected all seven of those portfolios. He was a student of the legendary photographer and a member of the Sierra Club.

Sunshine & Shadows: The World of Ansel Adams

Click to view Video

Click to view Video

KRON-TV special report from 1968, narrated by Ed Hart, about the life and work of Californian photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams (1902-84). Includes scenes of Adams hiking, taking photographs and teaching a workshop in Yosemite National Park. Also features views of him working in his home studio in Carmel, California and interviews regarding his professional philosophy and commitment to the environmental movement. This film was written and produced by Al Berglund and directed by Merle Ellis. view at diva.sfsu.edu

The Ansel Adams Gallery Rehabilitation Recently Completed at Yosemite National Park

Gallery Fully Reopened to Public

April 6, 2015 – The first part of a multi-phase rehabilitation project of The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park has recently been completed. The first phase of the project, which began in October 2014, was completed on Saturday, April 4, 2015. The newly rehabilitated gallery is fully open and operational in their historic location.

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Photo by Joseph Hornof

Work completed on The Ansel Adams Gallery included structural rehabilitation, safety improvements, enhanced site circulation, electrical wiring upgrades, and drainage improvements. Additionally, the project included designing the entire gallery to be fully accessible and ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) compliant. All building improvements and upgrades were completed while retaining as many materials and features that characterize the historic nature of this property. The overall project will cost approximately $2.5 million and is funded through franchise fees received from concession operations.

The last phase of the project, slated to be completed in early summer, will include rehabilitation of The Ansel Adams Gallery residential housing, ADA access to the onsite photographic education classroom, and additional site work, including landscaping and pathway reconstruction.

Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984) was a visionary nature photographer most famous for his black and white photographs of Yosemite National Park. The Ansel Adams Gallery, originally Best’s Studio, has been operating in Yosemite since 1902, and sells books, handcrafts, fine arts, and collections of Ansel Adams photographs.

Picture-perfect life: Daughter of Ansel Adams

SALINAS >> If a little girl grows up among towering rock formations, majestic waterfalls, ancient trees, and exotic little creatures, her story usually begins with “Once upon a time…”

Anne Adams Helms frolicked as a child in Yosemite National Park, where her mother ran a small artist’s studio that doubled as the family home. Her father was a photographer and an environmental activist who became a lifetime member and a director of the Sierra Club.

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Anne Adams Helms, the daughter of photographer Ansel Adams, and her husband Ken Helms stand in front of her father’s photo titled the Tetons and the Snake River at her home in rural Salinas on Wednesday. David Royal – Monterey Herald

Her parents met, fell in love, and were married after a six-week courtship at the foot of a 617-foot waterfall known as Bridalveil.

“It was such a romantic story that it got written up in the Chicago Tribune,” remembers Anne, now 80, who lives today with her 79-year-old husband, Ken Helms, in a former bed-and-breakfast with a spectacular view of the emerald hillside that rolls away from Laureles Grade.

The walls of their home are decorated with stunning original photos that were taken by her father, Ansel Adams, one of the most celebrated photographers who ever lived.

“Sometimes we called him Pops or whatever, but usually my brother (Michael) and I just called him Ansel,” she says. “It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful — not at all. We loved him, but he really wasn’t a daddy-ish kind of person. There weren’t any family vacations to Disneyland or anything like that.” … read more

Ansel Adams’ Granddaughter to Speak at ‘Ding’ Darling

monolakeAnsel Adams’ Granddaughter to Speak at ‘Ding’ Darling

February 28, 2015 / by STACEY HENSON, shenson@news-press.com

Adams rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly of California’s Yosemite National Park. As an environmental activist, he used his work to promote conservation of wilderness areas. One of his earliest books “Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada” contained text written by Sierra Club founder John Muir.

Adam’s iconic black-and-white images helped to elevate photography to a fine art, with his photos of Glacier National Park, Old Faithful Geyser and the High Sierra.

In 1984, the year he died, the U.S. Geologlical Society sanctioned the Ansel Adams Wilderness area, covering 100,000 acres between Yosemite National Park and the John Muir Wilderness Area. read more at news-press.com

San Diego Museum Unveils ‘Fragile Waters’ Exhibit

Interviews and previews – read more about this exhibit

FRAGILE WATERS is a powerful artistic and ecological statement through the inspiring black and white images of three renowned photographers and environmentalists – Ansel Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II, and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly. The traveling exhibition of 119 photographs, many not previously exhibited, takes viewers from the snow-melt of the High Sierras at 12,000 feet elevation to far below the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. All three artists have spent their lives near an ocean; all three have used their strong “integrity of place” to protect the sanctity of the environment through the universal language of black and white photography. Designed to engage the viewer in a respectful and emotional connection to our most precious resource, FRAGILE WATERS suggests our ability to change the course of the future.

FRAGILE WATERS calls attention to water, the critical resource, in all its beauty and power, inviting the viewer to engage with interpretations of three dynamic and dedicated photographers. From Ansel Adam’s first magical trip to Yosemite at 14, Ernest H. Brooks II’s first scuba dive at 13, and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly’s infatuation with the salt marshes at 18, these photographers each have lived their conviction, passion and commitment, and now share it through FRAGILE WATERS. Brooks and Monnelly have each been referred to as the “Ansel Adams” of their genres. Environmental degradation raises growing concerns. Restoration and preservation of the Earth’s aquatic ecosystems – her Fragile Waters – is far more compelling through the empathetic lens of each of these environmental stewards.

Water is more than a resource; it is essential to all life we know. In a time of blatant disregard for the sanctity of the environment, this exhibition focuses on the beauty of pure free-flowing water, of reflections and light, of water forms such as rain clouds, ice and icebergs, and of life in water, providing us access to a world we may never otherwise know. Brooks, Monnelly and Adams, all are devoted to nature, and that energy flows through their images. Integrating the work of these three artists into a cohesive exhibit multiplies its impact many times over.

Ansel Adams
Tetons & Snake River, 1942
Grand Teton National, WY
® Courtesy Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Dorothy Kerper Monnelly
Witch Island, Daybreak,
2002 Ipswich, MA
® Dorothy Kerper Monnelly

Ernest H. Brooks II
Magnificent Blue, 1981
Anacapa Passage, CA
® Ernest H. Brooks II

Jeanne Falk Adams/Curator
organized by photokunst.com

Ansel Adams’ Son to Open Photo Exhibit’s West Coast Premiere

The son of Ansel Adams, whose photos helped expand the national park system, will attend the opening festivities of the West Coast premiere of “Fragile Waters.”

The traveling display of 119 photographs, many not previously exhibited, will be at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and feature black and white images by environmentalists Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly.

Book review: ‘Ansel Adams in Yosemite Valley: Celebrating the Park at 150’

From age 14, photographer and conservationist Ansel Adams (1902–1984) visited Yosemite Valley annually.

Adams once said: “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”