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Ansel Adams and Edwin Land: Art, Science and Invention - Photographs from the Polaroid Collection
July 12 - September 9, 2007
Legendary twentieth-century photographer and master printmaker, Ansel Adams is internationally recognized for his crisp, detailed, and grand sweeping beautiful images of our natural environment. Adam's central involvement in the acceptance of photography as a fine art has also been lauded and in Ansel Adams and Edwin Land: Art, Science and Invention - Photographs from the Polaroid Collection on view at The Palmer Museum of Art from July 12 to September 9, 2007, we explore Adam's key involvement with the historical development of Polaroid film, invented by Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid Corporation, in 1940. (right: Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984), Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite, c. 1967, Polaroid PolaPan 4 x 5 Land Film Type 55, image 4 3/8 x 3 1/2 inches, © Photograph by Ansel Adams. Used with permission of the Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All rights reserved. Courtesy Polaroid Collections.)
Featuring more than 80 prints, including vintage enlargements of his famed Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1940 and Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1960, are also one-of-a-kind Polaroid black-and-white prints, four wall-size photomurals, correspondence, and a rare example of Adam's early commercial work. The exhibition is curated by Linda Benedict-Jones and Barbara Hitchcock.
In 1948, Adams became a consultant to Land, for whom he rigorously tested new films and products. Throughout the ensuing 35 years, Adams wrote thousands of letters and memoranda to report his findings and recommendations to Polaroid. The archives at Polaroid Corporation houses an extensive body of Adams's original Polaroid photographs and over 5,000 pages of his correspondence to Land and to other Polaroid colleagues.
Adams in his posthumous autobiography published in 1985, reflecting on his 1968 photograph of El Capitan and on his collaboration with Land, writes "Many of my most successful photographs from the 1950's onward have been made on Polaroid film. One look at the tonal quality of the print I have achieved should convince the uninitiated of the truly superior quality of Polaroid film."
As Adams continued to work with the film, he also advocated its use to other influential contemporaries such as, Minor White, Paul Caponigro, Marie Cosindas, and Walker Evans. While collaborating together, Adams's influence on Land reached beyond his work with the film. He also encouraged Land to begin collecting prints from other photographers such as Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, Imogen Cunningham and others, and those images today are the core of the Polaroid Collection.
Adams's example in this collaboration of art and science has evolved through current day with the Polaroid Collection including works on or with Polaroid materials by photographers such as William Wegman, Olivia Parker, Chuck Close, Mary Ellen Mark, David Levinthal, Robert Frank and many others.
In working with Land, Adams experimented with the technical and creative potential of this instant medium, and helped to usher in a new era in photography that has changed and influenced the process of the medium.
Ansel Adams and Edwin Land: Art, Science and Invention - Photographs from the Polaroid Collection is organized and sponsored by Polaroid Corporation. The exhibition is circulated by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions (CATE), Los Angeles.
(above: Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984), Self-Portrait, c. 1971, Polaroid SX-70 photograph, image 3 1/4 x 3 inches, © Photograph by Ansel Adams. Used with permission of the Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All rights reserved. Courtesy Polaroid Collections.)
(above: Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984), Mission San
Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona, 1968, Polaroid Positive/Negative 4
x 5 Land Film Type 55, image 3 1/2 x 4 3/8 inches,
© Photograph by Ansel Adams. Used with permission of the Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All rights reserved. Courtesy Polaroid Collections.)
Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy these additional articles and essays concerning Ansel Adams and American photography:
more articles on American photography:
and these videos:
Ansel Adams is a 100 minute 2002 American Experience PBS Home Video directed by Ric Burns and Narrated by David Ogden Stiers. From Warner Home Video. Ansel Adams's photographs have made him one of the most recognized and admired names in art. A staunch environmentalist, the pictures that Adams took reflected a larger world view the photographer held to strongly.
Ansel Adams, Photographer 60 minutes "This film captures the spirit and artistry of the man as he talks about his life and demonstrates the techniques that have made his work legendary. As Adams talks of the country he loves, viewers glimpse his photographs juxtaposed with the landscapes he photographed. In a conversation with artist Georgia O'Keeffe, Adams discusses his association with her husband, pioneer photographer Alfred Steiglitz." "Outlines the long and prolific career of American photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) as an artist, conservationist, and teacher. Follows him to the locations of his most famous photographs, including Yosemite."  By John Huszar. 1986 (available through Las Positas College Library)
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