Ansel Adams and the American Landscape: A Biography

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9780520216631: Ansel Adams and the American Landscape: A Biography
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Working with a cumbersome 8 x 10 field camera, Ansel Adams (1902-1984) created some of the most dramatic and influential photographs ever made of the American West. His majestic landscapes and evocative still lifes conveyed a vision of an idealized America that helped inspire the wilderness conservation movement. Yet despite these accomplishments, Adams has been the least studied of our most important photographers. Now Jonathan Spaulding provides the first full biography of the artist and a critical analysis of his life's work.

Refuting the myth of a solitary and carefree wilderness explorer, Spaulding portrays a man grappling with the question of how art and nature intersect in the modern world. He addresses the contradictions the photographer faced as both artist and activist: his struggle to balance art and commercialism; his desire to create art, yet enjoy bourgeois comforts; his simultaneous support for economic development, tourism, and wilderness preservation.

Spaulding places Adams's work in the context of modernism and the other major developments in twentieth-century art and ideas. He examines his debt to the pioneering art photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, and his response to later artists. He traces Adams's growth as an environmental activist and discusses his use of photography to further the cause of conservation.

Questions regarding the meaning and place of wilderness in modern culture remain with us today. By analyzing these issues through Adams's life and work, this book is a telling portrait of one of the century's greatest photographers and a reflection of our changing attitudes about the natural world.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Finally, here is an insightful biography of a very American man, an artist and a citizen-activist to be reckoned with by the ages. Spaulding's considered appraisal reveals Ansel Adams as a visionary whose actions helped forge a new art, photography, and a new ethic, environmentalism."—Mary Street Alinder, co-author Ansel Adams

"Some ask why the world singled out Ansel Adams to become the only true household name among the twentieth-century landscape photographers. The answer booms from these eloquent and thoughtful pages like the repeating chords of one of those Beethoven symphonies that he so dearly loved."—Galen Rowell, wilderness photographer, author of Poles Apart

"Knowing Ansel Adams as I did . . . I learned who he was, and what and when and where, but not why. Jonathan Spaulding has answered that question magnificently for us."—Dave Brower, founder, Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute

From the Back Cover:

"Finally, here is an insightful biography of a very American man, an artist and a citizen-activist to be reckoned with by the ages. Spaulding's considered appraisal reveals Ansel Adams as a visionary whose actions helped forge a new art, photography, and a new ethic, environmentalism." (Mary Street Alinder, co-author Ansel Adams)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780520089921: Ansel Adams and the American Landscape: A Biography

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ISBN 10:  0520089928 ISBN 13:  9780520089921
Publisher: University of California Press, 1995
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