America’s most famous landscape photographer has come home to the Bay Area. The de Young’s exhibition Ansel Adams in Our Time is a closer look at the prolific artist with special emphasis on his environmental activism, local roots, and influences on the landscape photographers of today. The exhibition presents over 100 of Adams’ works alongside pieces by 23 other contemporary landscape and environmental artists. See it from April 8 through July 23, 2023.
About the exhibition
Ansel Adams in Our Time brings Adams’ work back to the de Young, which was the site of his first museum exhibition in 1932. This exhibition dives into the artist’s local roots with new interpretive framing and additional works from the museum’s permanent collection.
In conjunction with Adams’ works, this exhibition features pieces by 23 contemporary artists who examine similar themes to the titular artist. Catherine Opie, Abelardo Morell, Binh Danh, Trevor Paglen, and more artists open contemporary conversations about Adams’ legacy, creating new connections and relationships between photography, art, environmentalism, and landscape. They consider dichotomies of drought and fire, mining and energy, economic booms and busts, and protected places and urban sprawl.
The exhibition is divided into five sections:
- Capturing the View
- Marketing the View
- San Francisco: Becoming a Modernist
- Adams in the American Southwest
- Picturing the National Parks
Ansel Adams in Our Time is organized in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
About Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams was born in 1902 in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, and by the age of 14 he was already photographing Yosemite National Park with his Eastman Kodak Brownie camera. He grew into a self-proclaimed “California photographer” and worked to present photography as a legitimate art form for nearly seven decades.
The “spiritual-emotional” features of national parks were a major motivation for Adams. He wanted to capture the restorative power of nature for a wide audience in order to encourage parks conservation. In 1975 Adams famously presented a print of Yosemite: Clearing Winter Storm (ca. 1937) to President Gerald Ford, proclaiming, “Now, Mr. President, every time you look at this picture, I want you to remember your obligation to the national parks.”
“Ansel Adams’ photography is renowned for its formal beauty and technical prowess, but his work is equally one of advocacy,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Adams was a tireless conservationist and wilderness preservationist who fully understood the power of images to sway public opinion. Ansel Adams in Our Time is exceptional in underscoring his brilliant legacy and the critical role that his works and others’ before him have played in safeguarding our national parks and other public lands.”