Exhibition Pairs Ansel Adams' 'Museum Set' With Work by Contemporary Photographers

  • NORFOLK, Virginia
  • /
  • August 08, 2018

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Ansel Adams (American, 1902−1984), Redwoods, Bull Creek Flat, Northern California, ca. 1960, printed 1980, Gelatin silver print, Chrysler Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. T. Lane Stokes, 83.633.7 ©2018 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona

This fall, the Chrysler Museum of Art will unveil an exhibition of photographs by celebrated landscape photographer Ansel Adams and contemporary photographers who were inspired by his work. From Ansel Adams to Infinity will be on view from Sept. 21, 2018–Jan. 27, 2019. Admission to the exhibition is free.

The exhibition commemorates the gift of a special portfolio of 25 photographs printed by Adams. Toward the end of his seven-decade career, the famed photographer began focusing on his artistic legacy, writing an autobiography and issuing portfolios of his most famous and technically accomplished works. Assisted by Carmel, Calif. gallery owner Maggi Weston, Adams reviewed more than 2,500 negatives of works originally made between 1923 and 1968 to issue a select group of prints representing his finest photographic accomplishments.

Released in the early 1980s, these portfolios came to be known as the “Museum Set.” Collectors could purchase a large portfolio of 75 prints or choose their own group of 25 that Adams would print himself, with the stipulation the prints would eventually be donated to a museum or similar institution. The Chrysler Museum’s portfolio was acquired by the Stokes family of Hampton Roads who worked with Adams to select the works printed for the portfolio.

“We are enormously grateful to the Stokes family,” said Seth Feman, Ph.D., Curator of Exhibitions and Curator of Photography at the Chrysler. “Their foresight and generosity has enabled countless people in the region to enjoy Adams’ inspiring photographs for generations to come.”

Ansel Adams stands at the pinnacle of 20th-century American photography. Inheriting much from the painters of the Hudson River School and 19th-century photographers, Adams carried forward their love of America’s landscape and their reverence for untamed nature into the 20th century.

With their unprecedented luminosity and tonal range, his stunning images of the Yosemite Valley and other dramatic Western sites set new standards for black-and-white photography. Also an impassioned conservationist, Adams enlisted his sublime imagery in his lifelong efforts to preserve America’s unspoiled landscapes. The Chrysler’s exhibition includes all 25 works in the “Museum Set,” which covers the range of Adams’ career and highlights several locations, including Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada, the San Francisco Bay and the Colorado Plateau.

The landscapes that commanded Adams’ interest have also inspired a new generation of artists, and the show will explore Adams’ legacy by including works by contemporary photographers who investigate and question Adams’ notion of the sublime.

Photographer Abelardo Morell reconsiders America’s iconic natural sites by using a unique tent camera that projects a landscape down onto the ground, which he then photographs, making an unexpected connection between the image and the land. Also considering the connection between image and land, photographer Matthew Brandt uses materials from the sites he photographs in the processing of his images, leaving physical traces in his resulting photographic prints. Using traditional photographic techniques, David Benjamin Sherry makes impossibly colorful landscapes that seem both otherworldly and intensely familiar. Additional artists include Christa Blackwood, David Emitt Adams, Florian Maier-Aichen and Millee Tibbs. 

“The works in From Ansel Adams to Infinity remind us that there is no one way to see the land,” said Feman. “Nature constantly invites new, inspiring ways of seeing and experiencing it. My hope is that after visitors see the exhibition, they will walk out into the landscape around us with a refreshed sense of wonder.”

For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit chrysler.org.

Tags: photography

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