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The Portfolios of Ansel Adams Paperback – April 5, 2006
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About the Author
In a career that spanned more than five decades, Ansel Adams was at once America's foremost landscape photographer and one of its most ardent environmentalists.
John Szarkowski is Director Emeritus of the Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. His most recent book is John Szarkowski (Bulfinch, 2005) and another of his books, The Idea of Louis Sullivan, was reissued by Bulfinch in 2000. Szarkowski lives in East Chatham, NY, and New York City.
Top customer reviews
In looking through these magnificent works of Adams, we see the grandeur of our National Parks which were essentially created by President Theodore Roosevelt with the passage of the "Antiquities Act" during the beginning of the 20th century. In retrospect it's a shame that Roosevelt never witnessed the portfolios of Ansel Adams. Looking at the entire works in these portfolios we see that Adams has concentrated his oeuvre of work mostly to the Western sections of the USA. I find some of his work due East as being worthy of further Adams attention, which of course never happened.
In studying, analyzing and perusing these portfolios, I find myself presented different textures and subjects presented to my field of vision which are different each and every time I see these presentations.
These pictures are a joy to our sense of sight. They are works of art to be treasured. Ansel Adams has brought forth the ultimate art form of photography. How can anyone rate this book less than 5 Stars?
The book includes an introduction by John Szarkowski. Once again Szarkowski proves that he was among the best commentators on fine photography. Adams, of course, is thought of primarily as a landscape or nature photographer. Szarkowski opines that Adams must possess "some privileged understanding of the meanings of the natural landscape" and that "the best of his pictures" evoke what it is like "to be alone in the world."
Although that sounds rather precious, after slowly paging through THE PORTFOLIOS I believe it to be true. The vast majority of the photographs are of nature and are unpeopled. (That doesn't mean that Adams could not take striking photographs of people; one of my favorite images is of a young woman in a white graduation dress standing next to, and inclined slightly towards, the dark, corduroy-barked trunk of a huge tree that in seeming reciprocation bends slightly towards her.) And the natural world they depict is as a sacred temple. Some of the subjects have, more than a half-century later, become so common that they would be clichés in the hands of almost any other photographer. Adams, however, manages images that are unique, majestic, and serene. Timeless, even. An excellent example is the 1948 photograph of Denali (then Mount McKinley) that is on the cover of this book and was the first photograph in the very first of the portfolios Adams produced.
I have the 1981 paperback edition. I looked at it when I bought it and then I lost track of it. So it has been about thirty-five years since I last leafed through it. I am enthralled. It kindles an enhanced admiration for Adams, and turns out to be one of the four or five finest books of photographs I own. My guess is that that would also be the case with most other photography lovers.