Ansel Adams exhibition reveals lesser-known work


Adams photograph

"Man of Taos," from Taos Pueblo, 1930, taken by Ansel Adams.

05 December 2001 | An unusual collection of Ansel Adams photographs — including little-known early works and commissioned projects, as well as selections from his acclaimed landscape photography — will be on exhibit beginning Dec. 12 in the Theater Gallery of the Berkeley Art Museum.

"Ansel Adams in the University of California Collections: A Photographer at Work," reveals Adams' work as a commercial photographer trying to support himself. The show was prepared by Jack von Euw, curator of the Bancroft Library Pictorial Collection.

Images not usually associated with Adams include fields planted with crops, high-voltage towers, portraits and architectural portraits. One series — commissioned in 1967 for the publication "Fiat Lux: The University of California," celebrating the UC centennial in 1968 — depicts the Berkeley campus. In these prints, signature traits associated with Adams' landscape images can be seen: extremely high horizon lines and exaggerated foregrounds, dramatic skies and frequent use of shadows as graphic elements.

The exhibition gives the public a rare opportunity to trace the development of Adams' photographic style throughout his lifetime. Its materials are drawn primarily from UC collections, including the University Archives, the Bancroft Library Pictorial Collection and the Berkeley Art Museum.

On display are memorabilia, personal notes, and excerpts from an in-depth oral history prepared by the Bancroft Library's Regional Oral History Office in 1978. The passages provide a glimpse of Adams' personal life. Early examples of his photography in Yosemite National Park, including a portfolio of 18 "Parmelian" prints of the High Sierra issued by Grabhorn Press in 1927, complement the oral history passages and underscore Adamsā deep personal attachment to the American wilderness.

To complete this "other side" of Ansel Adams, the exhibition offers a number of personal and candid portraits of Adams, as well as rare publications and commissioned works not commonly known to Adams aficionados. Among those are photographs of the Allied Arts Guild of California, commissioned by Garfield Merner, one of the founders of the guild, and rare photographs from Adams' work with the Sierra Club. Also included is a collection of photographs printed and assembled by Adams from Joseph LeConte's original turn-of-the-century negatives of Yosemite.

The Theater Gallery is open seven days a week and is free. The exhibition will be on display through March 10, 2002.


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