Ansel Adams at 100
celebrates the centenary of one of America's best-loved photographers. This superlative catalog of an exhibition organized by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presents the most dramatic and the most delicate of Adams's formal compositions, from spectacular mountainscapes to grasses on a pond, all reflecting his avowedly religious relationship to nature. Previously unpublished examples of Adams's early images show how he worked through the day, using changing light and different vantage points to interpret a subject. A fascinating comparison of his darkroom techniques is given in two printings of a 1948 negative of Mount McKinley, made in 1949 and 1978 to very different effects, one brooding and luminous, the other crisp and monumental. (The conventional wisdom is to prefer the earlier, but this reviewer loves them both.) The text by John Szarkowski, director emeritus of New York MoMA's photography department, gives biographical details and gracefully places Adams in the history of 20th-century photography and the conservation movement. Impeccable technical standards were a hallmark of Adams's work, and this book follows his tradition. Each black-and-white image is a tritone, meaning that it was printed from three different plates corresponding to different parts of the original photograph's gray scale, resulting in an extremely rich chromatic range. Light really does appear to glisten off a wet rock, and white aspens to glow. The images have been very carefully chosen, each page of a double spread complementing the other. The book's paper is custom-made, it is bound in linen and presented in a linen slipcase, and a complimentary facsimile of one of Adams's icons is included. The whole adds up to a most unusual and pleasing artifact: Ansel Adams at 100
consciously sets out to be the definitive study of a master, and it succeeds. --John Stevenson
From Publishers Weekly
Grandly proportioned, linen-bound and graceful as the images it conveys, Ansel Adams at 100 commemorates the birth of the famous native San Franciscan photographer with 114 of Adams's rich, beloved images spanning his oeuvre, and some delightful photos of the artist. The book and accompanying centennial exhibit at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (Aug. 2001-Jan. 2002), curated by John Szarkowski, director of the department of photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art, reevaluate the impact of Adams's work on photography, landscapes and the audience. "His pictures have enlarged our visceral knowledge of things that we do not understand," writes Szarkowski. He relates specific epiphanies that propelled Adams's evolution as an artist, such as when he shot Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, having suddenly realized that using a specific filter would "deepen the tone of the sky almost to black" and capture his emotional experience of the vista.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.