Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius

February 3 – April 1, 2007

Dorothy Jenkins and Emily S. Macey Galleries

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.



Yvonne L. Boyington Family Fund within the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland


Mr. Lawrence Hjersted
Ron and Becky Johnson


Douglass Screen Printers, Inc.
The Ledger

Related Programs

Friday, February 2, 2007 | 6:00 – 8:30pm
FREE for Museum members, $10 for Non-Members

Come to Polk Museum of Art for the opening reception for Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius. The evening starts with a special lecture by John Szakowski, Director Emeritus of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Szarkowski is the most influential photography curator of the last half century, and his books, exhibitions, films and lectures have molded the current thinking about photography as an art form. After the lecture, you will have the opportunity to browse the Ansel Adams exhibition on your own. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will be available.

Director Emeritus of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Friday, February 2, 2007 | 6:00pm
FREE to Members, $10 Guests

The Museum is pleased to kick off Dialogues with Artists, a new series of educational events, at the opening reception for Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius. On Friday, February 2 at 6:00pm, John Szarkowski will introduce the work of Ansel Adams through a presentation in the Museum’s auditorium. Szarkowski is undoubtedly the most influential person of the last half century on the development of photography in the United States. From 1962 to 1991, he served as Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, turning a department that Ansel Adams had helped found in 1940 into the most dynamic photography collection in the country. During his tenure, he launched the careers of Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, and Lee Friedlander, sealed the reputations of figures such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, and Eugene Atget, and gave Ansel Adams a one-person exhibition in 1979. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and New York University and has authored dozens of important books including The Photographer’s Eye (1964), Looking at Photographs (1973), Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960 (1978), and Photography Until Now (1989-90). In 1990, U.S. News & World Report said: “Szarkowski’s thinking, whether Americans know it or not, has become our thinking about photography”. In 2001, he curated the major exhibition Ansel Adams at 100 for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and wrote the accompanying catalogue, perhaps the most definitive book on Adams.

The Dialogues With Artists Series is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Theme: Landscapes Near and Far
February 12, 2007 | 6:00pm

Photographers are invited to present (5) slides or digital images of their work for group discussion. Participate in an evening of sharing work and ideas with other photography enthusiasts, tour the Ansel Adams exhibition with a docent or curator and enjoy light refreshments. Call the Education Department at 863-688-5423 for ticket information.

Every Wednesday and Sunday, February 3 – April 1, 2007 | 1:00pm
NO FILM Sunday, February 24 and Sunday, March 10

American Experience: Ansel Adams
PBS describes Ric Burns’ film biography of Adams as “an intimate portrait of a man for whom life and art were inextricably connected with photography and wilderness.” Few American artists have enjoyed more widespread popularity while alive than Ansel Adams. A visionary photographer, pioneer in technique, and environmental crusader, Adams took part in a revolution in photography, and in the ways he saw “the continuous beauty of the things that are.” (90 min.)

Speaking of Art: John Szarkowski on Ansel Adams
This film on Ansel Adams tackles the deeper significance of Adams’ work beyond his enduring popularity as an environmental pioneer and rhapsodist of the American West. “Adams did not photograph the landscape as a matter of social service, but as a form of private worship. It was his own soul that he was trying to save. He was confessing to a private knowledge that is almost surely incommunicable but that he was nevertheless obliged to attempt to photograph.” (40 min.)

John Szarkowski: A Life in Photography
is a 47-minute video produced by Richard B. Woodward. (Checkerboard Foundation, 1998). For nearly 30 years, from 1962-1991, John Szarkowski served as the Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This film examines his double life as curator and photographer. Szarkowski, author of the classic Looking at Photographs, has taught generations how to think about and look at images. (Description courtesy of International Center of Photography.)

February 6 – March 27, 2007 | 10:30am

For eight Tuesday mornings join the Executive Director, Curator of Art, or Curator of Education for a tour of the Ansel Adams exhibition. Talks will be held February 6, 13, 20, and 27, and March 6, 13, 20, and 27.