— December 6, 2012 —
In Pictures is a still and moving image gallery for significant works, events and places
Untitled, about 1960 Photography by Ansel Adams, Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights TrustAnsel Adams is one of the most acclaimed photographers of the twentieth century, revered for his astoundingly detailed, beautifully composed, black and white images of the American wilderness. He was a leading pioneer of Modernist photography, an approach that rejected the painterly pictorial style favoured at the turn of the century, instead embracing modern techniques like sharp focus, seriality and sequence. Adams was also a great believer in his colleague Alfred Stieglitz's concept of equivalency: the idea that a photograph should correspond to the artists’ frame of mind at the time of capturing. He once stated, “When I see something I react to it and I state it, and that’s the equivalent of what I felt. So I give it you as a spectator, and you get it or you don’t get it, but there’s nothing on the back of the print that tells you what you should get.”
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed”
These key concepts behind Adams' work are wonderfully presented and considered in the National Maritime Museum's current exhibition, Ansel Adams: Photography From The Mountains To The Sea, an extensive display of images with a specific focus on Adams' fascination with water. The ephemeral, unpredictable nature of water, in all its many forms, was a source of endless inspiration to Adams, whose first ever photograph (the starting point of the exhibition) depicts a watery pool at the Panama Pacific Exhibition, 1915. Thereafter, over the course of his career, Adams went on to capture an abundance of gently rippling lakes, rolling ocean waves, beguiling icescapes, dramatic rapids and billowing waterfalls, demonstrating unprecedented levels of skill, patience and versatility within his medium. The show provides a brilliant selection of such masterfully rendered landscapes of all sizes, from tiny prints to vast murals, each affirmative of what is arguably Adam's greatest gift – the ability to convey to others the powerful and evocative impact of nature, as seen through his lens. As Adams himself declared: “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
Ansel Adams: Photography From The Mountains To The Sea is currently on display at the National Maritime Museum and runs until April 28, 2013.
Text by Daisy Woodward