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Ansel Adams

(1902—1984) American photographer


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(1902–84)

American landscape photographer, born in San Francisco. He had originally intended to become a pianist and initially took up photography as a profession in the context of his membership of the Sierra Club, a conservation organization. It was their bulletin that first published his photographs, and he remained an active environmental campaigner for all his life. He was especially noted for his depictions of the mountainous regions in the Yosemite. Images such as the sheer rock face of Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, California (c.1927) are part of an American tradition of the sublime that can be traced from a landscape painter like Frederick Edwin Church (1824–1900) to the expansive abstracts of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. Adams was especially noted for his technical virtuosity. He published ten instructional manuals and developed the ‘zone system’, a highly complex method of grading tones. His exclusion of the human presence from his pictures, doubtless one of the reasons for the popularity of his work, was not universally approved. Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, ‘The world is falling to pieces and all Adams and Weston photograph is rocks and trees.’

Subjects: Art.


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