From Ansel Adams to Infinity
September 21, 2018 — January 27, 2019
Second Floor, Photography Gallery
Eagle Peak and Middle Brother, Winter, Yosemite National Park, California, ca. 1968, printed 1980,
Photograph by Ansel Adams
Chrysler Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. T. Lane Stokes, 83.633.3 © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
Toward the end of his seven-decade career, the famed photographer Ansel Adams 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 gallery owner Maggi Weston, Adams reviewed more than 2,500 negatives of works originally made between 1923 and 1968 to issue a select group of prints representing his finest photographic accomplishments.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 seventy-five prints or choose their own group of twenty-five that Adams would print himself, with the stipulation the prints would eventually be donated to a museum or similar institution. One portfolio was acquired by the Stokes family of Hampton Roads, who worked with Adams to select the works printed for the portfolio.
The Chrysler celebrates the donation of this portfolio with the exhibition From Ansel Adams to Infinity. Adams’s stunning black and white photographs of the Yosemite Valley and other dramatic Western sites are renowned for their unprecedented luminosity and tonal range, refinements Adams perfected through cutting-edge photographic techniques and materials.
Ansel Adams stands at the pinnacle of twentieth-century American photography. Inheriting much from the painters of the Hudson River School and nineteenth-century photographers, Adams carried forward their love of America’s landscape and their reverence for untamed nature into the twentieth 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 twenty-five works in the “Museum Set,” which covers the range of Adams’s career and highlights several locations, including Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada, the San Francisco Bay, and the Colorado Plateau.
The landscapes that commanded Adams’s interest have also inspired a new generation of artists, and the show explores Adams’s legacy by including works by contemporary photographers who investigate his photographic ideals. 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. Penelope Umbrico re-photographs works by well-known landscape photographers like Adams and processes them through a variety of commercially available iPhone camera apps, allowing the flow of digital output to disrupt our perception of and assumptions about the photographic “masters.” Additional artists include Christa Blackwood, David Emitt Adams, Florian Maier-Aichen, and Millee Tibbs.
Penelope Umbrico (American, b. 1957)
RANGE (082818), 2018 from Range: of Masters of Photography 37 chromogenic prints
Courtesy the artist