Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ansel Adams: Last day at the Corcoran Gallery

Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and the world surrounding him.
~ Ansel Adams

This afternoon, I hopped the Metro and wandered through the Corcoran Gallery's Ansel Adams photography exhibition. It was fascinating. Rooms upon rooms filled with his photographs - some of which I had never seen before. Some images were breathtaking, others were humorous and still others made me pause and wonder at his ability to capture subtlety.

I also learned some interesting factoids about Adams, which I will share with you here.

For example, did you know that his photographs of Yellowstone National Park (1942) were the last National Parks pictures he took before the US entered WWII? Apparently, America's entry into the war forced the US Department of the Interior to discontinue funding for the project.

Here's another tidbit. In 1933, Adams went to the An American Place gallery in NYC to meet the famous photographer Stieglitz. The first part of his meeting with Stieglitz did not go well; however, the great photographer finally told Adams that his photographs were some of the best he ever saw. Even better, he gave Adams a one person exhibit to display 45 photographs set against "cool, gray walls."

Adams later said that the exhibit was a revelation for him - as if he was seeing his work for the first time.

I've been lucky enough to see some of his photographs elsewhere; however, there was something magical about walking through this intimate gallery setting today. The muted light cast subtle shadows throughout the gallery, highlighting how Adams played with light and shadow in his own images.

With one particular photo "Clearing Winter Storm" (1927), one reviewer said that the light was "a kind of silver gilding in an otherwise gray day."

In short, the exhibit was just as the New York Times wrote of one of his exhibits in the 1930s:

"Photography by Ansel Adams, a Californian, strikingly captures a world of poetic form. His lens caught snow laden branches in their delicate tracery; shells embedded in sandstone; great trees and cumulus clouds. It is masterly stuff."


Jennifer said...

I am so Jealous!!! How cool.

Kelly said...

It was super cool, Jen! You would've loved it, for sure!!! Hugs, Kel