New Series of Ansel Adams Photographs Revealed

New Series of Ansel Adams Photographs Revealed

A never-before seen series of 26 Ansel Adams photographic murals was recently put on display in Washington DC. View this exciting exhibition of some of Ansel Adams’ photos made during 1941 and 1942.

In 1941, Jay Ickes, the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, commissioned photographer Ansel Adams to produce a series of photographs for the department.  Unfortunately, when World War II broke out, the project was canceled.  However, Adams had already taken the photographs on a trip through the American West.

  Walpi, Arizona

The photographs are part of ‘Ansel Adams: the Mural Project, 1941-1942′.  On March 10, 2010, the photographic murals were finally displayed on the walls of the Interior Department by present Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.

Canyon De Chelly, Arizona

Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco in 1904. His grandfather started a prosperous lumber business, which his father also ran. Interestingly, Adams later strongly criticized the lumber industry for cutting the majestic redwood forests.  At four years old, Adams was thrown into a wall during the San Francisco earthquake, breaking his nose. One of his earliest memories was watching the great fire that consumed the city after the earthquake. His disfigured nose remained one of his distinctive features for the rest of his life.

Ansel Adams (Wikipedia)

Ansel Adams’ photographic career started with a family trip to Yosemite Park in 1916.  He later wrote of his first impression of the scenery, “The splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.” His father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera, and a photographer was born. 

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

He packed large unwieldy cameras with glass plates into the backcountry of the Sierra mountains to capture images of the American landscape. He refined his technique during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, learning about better photographic paper and finer printing techniques to highlight the black and white contrasts in his photos.

Leaves, Glacier National Park, Montana

In 1931, he had his first major solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The show featured 60 prints from Adams’ trips into the high Sierras.  A review in the Washington Post said  “His photographs are like portraits of the giant peaks, which seem to be inhabited by mythical gods.”

In Glacier National Park, Montana

Adams presented nature in his photographs not as it might appear in a snapshot, but as it would best be presented.  On a trip to Yosemite Park in 1927, he used a red filter on his last plate of the day to dramatically darken the sky. He said,  “I had been able to realize a desired image: not the way the subject appeared in reality but how it felt to me and how it must appear in the finished print”.

Grand Tetons, Snake River, Wyoming

Ansel Adams was a lifelong member of the environmental protection group, the Sierra Club. He later served as its director, as did his wife.  His influence elevated photography as an art form into the league of painting and music, equally able to convey emotion and beauty.  “It is easy to take a photograph, but it is harder to make a masterpiece in photography than in any other art medium”.

Ferns, in Glacier National Park

The exhibition of ‘Ansel Adams: The Mural Project, 1941-1942′ will be on permanent display at the Department of the Interior Building in Washington DC.  The exhibit is open to the public during business hours by tour only. See all 26 photographs and get further information about tour reservations at the Interior Department website.  

Images courtesy US Department of the Interior

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One Comment
bhawnashukla, posted this comment on Mar 13th, 2010

Wonderful pictures.thanks for the info.the photos are really mesemerizing.

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