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Ansel Adams at 100 Hardcover – August 2, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 Previously unpublished examples of Adams's early images show how he worked through the day, using changing light and different vantage points to interpret a subject.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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Ansel Adams; Slp edition (August 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821225154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821225158
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 14.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is the official catalog for the traveling show in honor of Ansel Adams' birth in 1902 that just opened in San Francisco and will travel through Chicago, London, Berlin, and Los Angeles before closing in New York late in 2003. I cannot remember a finer catalog for a photography show.
The show's images were selected by John Szarkowski who is the director emeritus of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art. In selecting images for the show, he emphasized both what he thought was Ansel Adams' finest work, and his work that looked best in printed form. So the images provide room for an outstanding reproduction, and that's just what the book's publishers have provided.
The edition itself comes linen bound and in a matching linen slip cover. The pages are all of the highest quality heavy cover stock. The tritone printing is exquisite, limited only by the negatives and the current state-of-the art in printing. There is also a superb design. The works are sized to be in proportion to each others' negatives. Where images play off of each other, they are placed next to one another or on facing pages. Where that sort of conversation isn't possible, you see one image per two open pages. Unlike most of Ansel Adams' books, this one is on oversized pages so that there is the possibility of seeing the details as Mr. Adams intended them to be seen.
A nice bonus is that each book comes with a frameable tritone 13" X 11" print on heavy cover stock with fascimile signature by Ansel Adams and a blind embossed seal of the Ansel Adams Trust of Aspens, Dawn, Dolores River Canyon, Colorado, 1937 . . . which is also reproduced in the book. It is the image of aspens that you probably know best from Mr. Adams' work.
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Format: Hardcover
Please consider this advice--If you plan on purchasing this book, please take the time to see it at a local library or bookstore before ordering it.
I was amazed to see a relatively poor review here at Amazon reviews while I was searching for this book. A review in a photography magazine deemed it a must-have for any library. The promise of high quality reproductions on heavy paper and rare photos not seen outside of large showings was promising. I also felt that for the price, one couldn't go wrong....after all, the more expensive, the less likely to be a bust, right?
Well, I am sad to say that the book is quite a disappointment for me, too. It is a heavy work, good stock. Many of the photos, despite the promise of being wonderfuly printed, are of low contrast, and detail that I know is there on some of the original prints which I've seen, is not present. The notes on photos indicate some are reproduced at life size, yet appear to be little more than thumbnails, lost on the huge background. Perhaps this is the haute presentation, but not satisfying for my expectation.
Some of the prints are quite good. "Moonrise" does not disappoint, but several of the Yosemite favorites are fuzzy, and as mentioned earlier, seem to be of low contrast. This, in a book celebrating the man who championed the Zone system to give life to the print, seems a bit out of whack. Perhaps the graphics designers and the technicians doing the transfers did their best, but having seen several original prints done by Adams (and having spent way too much time in front of them marvelling at the detail, shadows, and contrast) I can say that the flavor and excitement that I remember getting from just seeing an original Adams has not been transferred to me in this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you can only afford to buy one photo book / coffee table book this year . . . this is the book to buy. Period. This oversized book is beautifully reproduced and lovingly bound to last for ages; a commemorative print, not available elsewhere, is reproduced as a separate plate -- suitable for framing, which is a nice touch: Who among us can afford an original Ansel Adams photograph? As beautiful as this is as an example of book-making, its real value lies in the selection of photos.
Of course, no two photographers will ever agree as to what photos should have been included in this massive retrospective -- outside of the obvious ones like "Moonrise Over Hernandez County" -- but every photographer who looks at this book should find inspiration in Ansel's inimitable "eye" that saw, and captured on film, the ordinary and transformed it into the extraordinary; a photographer who saw the extraordinary and transformed it into the sublime.
As for the text: I think an academic perspective is certainly appropriate for such a retrospective, but I would dearly have loved to see a piece by, say, Joseph Holmes (NATURAL LIGHT--a gorgeous collection of photos) or another photographer to give it, so to speak, a "through the lens" perspective.
Although there are other coffee-table sized books published of Ansel Adams's work, this one sets a high watermark and, as such, should find a permanent place in the library of every serious photographer, aspiring photographer, or anyone with a sense of beauty who can appreciate the rare and wonderful talent that is Ansel Adams.
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