Silver gelatin, mounted. Valley of boulders leading back to sunlit twin mountain peaks. One boulder in center foreground as focus. Signed, ink (recto: bottom right). Verso: Adams stamp. Title handwritten. "RSN 82532R25" handwritten pencil.
This photograph, which appeared in Edward Steichen’s 1955 Family of Man Exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, was taken while Adams was driving to the Manzanar Relocation Camp for Japanese-Americans in 1944. In “Examples,” Adams writes “the enormous backdrop of the Sierra Nevada to the east gave the nature-loving Japanese-Americans a certain respite from their mood of isolation and concern for the future” ("Examples," p.65). To give the mountains their due grandeur and proportion, Adams used the boulders and storm clouds to provide perspective. Placing his camera on a platform atop his station wagon, Adams tilted the camera down to keep the boulders and the peaks in focus, and drove back and forth to arrange the composition. The beauty and timelessness of this photograph starkly contrasts with his images of the internment camp itself.
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is one of the most well-known twentieth century photographers. His contributions to the field of photography include his innovation and teaching of the Zone System. The quality of his photographs set the standard by which many straight photographs are judged.
The collection in the Photographic History Collection consists of twenty-five photographs, all printed in or about 1968. All are gelatin silver, mounted, labeled and signed in ink by the photographer. The photographs include some of his most well-known images, but also portraits and objects. The selection of images was made in collaboration between the collecting curator and Adams.
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