Ansel Adams and the Human Element

We are pleased to offer special pricing on a number of original photographs by Ansel Adams this March! These photographs convey the human element, oftentimes in light of adverse circumstances. During the depression era in the 1930s, Henri Cartier-Bresson claimed: “The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks!” Although easily enough said, much of Adams work was devoted towards touching the human spirit and soul of the people and the places that he photographed, and this grouping is no exception.

El Capitan, Merced River, Swimmers

“El Capitan, Merced River, Swimmers”: taken during the summertime, this lovely and virtually unknown photograph of Yosemite’s spectacular monolith, El Capitan, features swimmers, bathers, picnickers and summertime fun along the banks of the Merced River. If you look carefully, Ansel skillfully captures the diminutive size of humans in relation to the grand backdrop of one of the most extraordinary landscapes on Earth. This rare and sentimental photograph had been given to family members of Ansel Adams, and has just recently become available.

Farm Workers, Paul Masson Vineyards

“Farm Workers, Paul Masson Vineyards”: In 1959, Ansel Adams was commissioned by the Paul Masson Vineyards, to photograph their winery, he asked Pirkle Jones to join the project. The images document many of the processes necessary to produce a bottle of wine – from plowing a field with a workhorse to the picking of grapes. An exhibition of these photographs touring the United States, known as “The Story of a Winery”, was sponsored by the Smithsonian in the 1960s. This beautiful example is an original vintage photograph from that time period, in an oversized 14×11 inch format, and has been remarkably preserved in “Excellent” condition. It is well-priced at $4,500.

Political Sign and Circus Poster

“Political Sign and Poster”: The George Creel political poster in this photograph touches on an interesting bit of California political history.
A progressive investigative reporter, who famously advocated for the lynching of senators who opposed public ownership of the local water supply and advocated for taking away billy clubs from police officers – he ran against the novelist Upton Sinclair in the Democratic primary for Governor in 1934. Shortly after US entered WWI, Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information, a propaganda agency to release government news and put George Creel in charge. Under his direction the CPI was hugely successful and is credited with the creation of public relations as we know it today, bringing to light the power of mass persuasion and social influence at a national level.

Gravestone and Church, Chinese Camp

“Gravestone and Church, Chinese Camp”: (left) Travel back in time to Gold Rush country with Ansel Adams and his portrayal of yet another marvelous photograph of California history. Located in Tuolumne county, right outside of Yosemite National Park, St. Francis Xavier, was built in 1855 toward the end of the Gold Rush. The region became known as Chinese Camp due to the 5000 Chinese immigrants that lived there – first as gold miners, then as railroad workers.  Reflecting the times and the stresses of both instant wealth and abject poverty, it became the site of the state’s first Tong War. First established to house miners, merchants and others looking to make their fortune in the Gold Rush, Chinese Camp is now virtually a ghost town. Restored in 1949, a few years after Ansel took this photograph, services have not been held there since the 1920s. Surrounded by graves and family plots, but once again in ruins, the Stockton Archdiocese has determined that they will save it for posterity and have started a restoration campaign. This haunting, yet intimate portrayal is now available as an original gelatin silver print, in Excellent condition and priced at $8,500.”: Travel back in time to Gold Rush country with Ansel Adams and his portrayal of yet another marvelous photograph of California history. Located in Tuolumne county, right outside of Yosemite National Park, St. Francis Xavier, was built in 1855 toward the end of the Gold Rush. The region became known as Chinese Camp due to the 5000 Chinese immigrants that lived there – first as gold miners, then as railroad workers. Reflecting the times and the stresses of both instant wealth and abject poverty, it became the site of the state’s first Tong War. First established to house miners, merchants and others looking to make their fortune in the Gold Rush, Chinese Camp is now virtually a ghost town. Restored in 1949, a few years after Ansel took this photograph, services have not been held there since the 1920s. Surrounded by graves and family plots, but once again in ruins, the Stockton Archdiocese has determined that they will save it for posterity and have started a restoration campaign. This haunting, yet intimate portrayal is now available as an original gelatin silver print, in Excellent condition and priced at $8,500.

Mannequins, Movie Lot

“Mannequins, Movie Lot”: This gelatin silver photograph, printed in a large glossy 16×20 inch format, is signed and in “Pristine” condition: it is an extremely rare example. The image has an interesting reference to film-noir and cinematography during the early 1940’s, and was likely taken in one of the Studio City movie lots when Adams was working with the University of California school system, namely at UCLA.

Old California Street Firehouse”

Old California Street Firehouse”

“Old California Street Firehouse”: The style of Engine 15 firehouse has been referred to as “Gothic Burlesque”. Built in 1884, it represents the ‘Gothic Revival Spirit’ that prevailed in San Francisco from the 1850’s; reaching its peak in the 1880’s. This structure was one of the principal buildings of this picturesque style that survived the 1906 great earthquake and fire. Demolished in 1959, the important ornamental features of the facade were retained for exhibition purposes. (Library of Congress)