Opening with a February 2 reception and lecture by John Szarkowski, Museum of Modern Art’s Photography Director Emeritus, Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius is a blockbuster exhibition featuring 150 photographs by Ansel Adams. Celebration of Genius presents work from the 1920s through the 1960s, all part of the collection of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
On a summer day in 1916, at the age of fourteen, Ansel Adams saw the breathtaking Yosemite Valley for the first time. With a Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie, he proceeded to make pictures. Perhaps he had an inkling that this magical place would be forever entwined with his destiny. Adams remains among the few photographers in history whose name and work enjoy world-wide recognition. His stunning landscapes and intimate still lifes of nature continue to captivate viewers. While many come to know his work through widely published books, postcards, posters and calendars, relatively few have actually seen his lushly printed original images.
This exhibition presents work from the 1920s through the 1960s, including an early 1927 portfolio (one of only 50 produced) of Parmelian prints (gelatin silver emulsion on parchment paper). For the first time, George Eastman House is pleased to include this portfolio from its collection in this exhibition. Featured are many of Adams’s most famous images of the American West, but prepare to discover equally stupendous, if less well known, images such as Mud Hills, Arizona or Water and Foam. Many will be surprised to see that Adams did not confine himself to landscapes, but also made portraits and other subjects as humble as fence posts into images nearly as monumental as his beloved mountain ranges.
In the course of his long life, Adams would produce eight portfolios and have work in more than 500 exhibitions. A prolific writer, he published 37 books and hundreds of articles about photography. In 1932 Adams was instrumental in the founding of Group f/64, a short-lived but influential group of California photographers who brought artistic legitimacy to “straight” photography. Adams also helped establish the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona to house his archives. He received many national and international awards, honorary degrees, three Guggenheim Fellowships, and had a wilderness area and mountain named after him. He is the only photographer to be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, which he received in 1980. Adams died in Carmel, California on April 22, 1984.
This exhibition is organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.