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Ansel Adams at The Snite

Caelin Miltko | Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Praised as one of the greatest American photographers of the 20th century, Ansel Adams captured the natural beauty of the American west through his iconic black and white photography until his death in 1984. From November until January, Notre Dame’s Snite Museum is housing an exhibition of his work in conjunction with the South Bend Museum of Art.
The Ansel Adams exhibit features four of his photographs, two feature scenes from California and two in New Mexico, with more photographs currently on display at the South Bend Museum of Art as part of the traveling “Ansel Adams: Masterworks” collection.
The four photographs at the Snite are “Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada from Manzanar, California,” “Aspens, Northern New Mexico,” “Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California,” and “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” The two featuring California are from the Mrs. Lorraine Gallagher Friemann Fund, “Aspens” is from Museum purchase by exchange from Samuel J. Schatz, and “Moonrise” was lent to the museum by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ayers.
 “Mount Williamson” comes from a collection Adams created during World War II as an attempt to document the lives of Japanese Americans interned in Manzanar, California.
The picture shows the mountains as a storm passes over them – the way the photograph captures the light falling through the clouds is particularly remarkable.
 “Moonrise” features a small New Mexico town, though more than half of the photograph is taken up by the night sky. Adams is said to have claimed it was one of his best photos in a conversation with Dave McAlpin in January 1943.
Adams started his career in California’s Yosemite Park when his family took annual trips to the national park. His first trip to the park was when he was 14 years old and at age 17, he joined the Sierra Club. He worked as a custodian at the Club’s LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite and eventually became the official photographer of the Club’s annual outings in Yosemite. This launched his career in photography.
According to the Snite, his personal style combines “careful observation with an ability to capture fleeting effects of light and atmosphere.” It is this style that allows for his extraordinary ability to capture light effects in his photographs not seen in many others.
Adams was known for the stories he told about when he took each of his photographs. He was known for going to great lengths to get the photographs he wanted, going out for four consecutive mornings to capture the correct image for “Winter Sunrise.”
“He used camera and darkroom to manipulate tone in compositions that he ‘preconceived’ when confronting his subjects in the field,” the Snite Museum said on the exhibit’s website. “Adams wrote ten volumes on photographic technique and published countless books of photographs. He worked all over the American west, documenting the wilderness through his camera.
He is credited with being one of the greatest artist-activists in the 20th century. His works showcase wilderness many Americans have never experienced and is part of the reason many of the national parks he features have remained untouched by industry.
Contact Caelin Miltko at [email protected]