NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Interviews and photos: OKC Museum of Art showcases work of 'Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West'

Advertisement
A couple views Ansel Adams' “El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California," featured in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West," Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A couple views Ansel Adams' “El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California," featured in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West," Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]
Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]
Lucian Clergue's (French, 1934–2014) 1985 Cibachrome print "Dune at White Sands" is featured in the exhibit “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]
Lucian Clergue's (French, 1934–2014) 1985 Cibachrome print "Dune at White Sands" is featured in the exhibit “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]

An abbreviated version of this story appears in the Sunday Life section of The Oklahoman. 

Natural wonders: OKC Museum of Art showing landscapes of Ansel Adams, other 'Photographers of the West'

America's most well-known photographer, Ansel Adams is revered for his dramatically beautiful black-and-white views of Western landscapes.

His advocacy, artistry and ardor for both the picturesque wilderness and the pure, or straight, photography style he used to capture it inspired both his peers and future generations of photographers.

“He was incredibly committed. He was incredibly busy in the darkroom, in the workshops, campaigning for the environment, teaching students. For other photographers, he always had an open door in that sense. But also, he was technically a virtuoso of photography … and then I think that he was an idealist. He truly believed that nature had this power to uplift the spirit, to improve our lives as human beings,” said Francesca Giani, curator of the exhibit “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West.”

On view through May 26 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the exhibit includes almost 50 striking prints by more than a dozen photographers, including seven gelatin silver prints by Adams. On loan from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art and a private collection, the show includes Adams favorites “Moon and Half Dome,” “Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California” and “El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California.”

“We had witnessed the Great Depression and the war … and both he and Edward Weston were being criticized by other photographers for not being socially engaged enough. Other photographers were capturing breadlines, the people and the struggles, and they were photographing landscapes. That was seen as naïve and out of touch with reality,” Giani said. “But both Ansel Adams and Edward Weston … said, ‘No, there is a social value to this.’ Nature is there to stay. We will go through wars, we will go through conflicts, we will go through struggles, but the mountains will always be there. The rocks will always be there. There’s a sense of solace in that. There’s a comfort that you get from that idea. No matter what else changes, the rocks will still be there.”

A man views the Brett Weston prints that are part of Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" on Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A man views the Brett Weston prints that are part of Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" on Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Brett Weston's (American, 1911–1993) "Untitled" 1946 gelatin silver print is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's exhibit "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]
Brett Weston's (American, 1911–1993) "Untitled" 1946 gelatin silver print is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's exhibit "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]
A man studies the catalog while looking at Ansel Adams photographs in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A man studies the catalog while looking at Ansel Adams photographs in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Local collection

While the Adams and Edward Weston photographs are on loan, the majority of the images in the exhibit are taken from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

“Our collection is strong in the second part of that: ‘Photographers of the West.’ We have a lot of photographers who were heavily indebted to Ansel Adams, who knew him personally, who were close friends with him, studied under him in various ways,” said Michael Anderson, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs.

“They owed much of their art and careers to Ansel Adams, and that’s something that we wanted to highlight. … So, when the opportunity to do an Ansel Adams exhibition presented itself, we wanted to still highlight part of our collection. It wasn’t going to be entirely loans from outside, because we have these great works that relate to Ansel Adams.”

From the permanent collection, the second-floor exhibit includes stunning photos by Laura Gilpin, Philip Hyde, William Garnett, Morley Baer, Lucian Clergue and more. It also showcases several black-and-white gelatin silver prints from Brett Weston’s “White Sands” portfolio, captivating early images by Edward Weston’s son, who would soon take his landscape photographs into abstraction, and an array of hypercolor dye-transfer prints from Eliot Porter’s “Glen Canyon” portfolio, evocative scenes of a landscape that no longer exists.

“There’s a cool environmental history in that portfolio because he’s basically documenting places that no longer exist,” Giani said. “It’s a lake. Basically, they built a dam and it created a lake that inundated and flooded all the subsidiary canyons. So, all the ecology of the place and some indigenous artifacts are lost. These photographs, he took them before the dam was built … so we have the photographs at least.”

The photography exhibit is on view alongside “From the Golden Age to the Moving Image: The Changing Face of the Permanent Collection,” a reinstallation of the museum’s second-floor galleries that was just completed last week. It features the museum’s new acquisitions “Still Life with Fruits, Flowers, Game and Fish” by Jan van Kessel the Elder, “An Italian Autumn” by Thomas Cole and “Jacob de Graeff” by Kehinde Wiley, plus works by Oklahoma Cultural Treasure Ed Ruscha, Anthony van Dyck, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alice Neel, Andy Goldsworthy and more.

Ansel Adams' "Tree, Stump and Mist, Northern Cascades, Washington" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]
Ansel Adams' "Tree, Stump and Mist, Northern Cascades, Washington" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]
A group discusses the photographs of Eliot Porter at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A group discusses the photographs of Eliot Porter at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Eliot Porter's (American, 1901–1990) dye transfer print "Dungeon Canyon, Glen Canyon," is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]
Eliot Porter's (American, 1901–1990) dye transfer print "Dungeon Canyon, Glen Canyon," is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]

Natural wonders

Adams was not only an influential artist but also a pioneer of the modern environmental movement. His vast body of work – more than 40,000 photographs - depicts popular tourist areas as well as pristine wildernesses. He played an important role in the growth of the Sierra Club and lobbied boldly for the protection of the environment.

He believed that exposure to nature - or at least imagery of it – could be balm for the soul frazzled by the turmoil of urban life, Giani said.

He wasn’t wrong: In the years since Adams’ death in 1984, research in a growing scientific field known as ecotherapy has shown strong connections between time spent in nature and reduced stress anxiety and depression, according to Harvard Health Publishing. And in a study last year in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, researchers reported that simply staring at an image of natural scenery for 40 seconds was enough to prompt the brain into a more relaxed state.

“He tested the theory on himself, because Ansel Adams, he needed to go out there. He was a very gregarious man. He loved to party … and he was a very funny guy, too. But then, at some point, he had to leave and be on his own in Yosemite. So, he truly needed that for his own sake,” Giani said.

A man looks at two photographs by Morley Baer included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A man looks at two photographs by Morley Baer included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Edward Weston's photograph of "White Dunes" is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Edward Weston's photograph of "White Dunes" is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A couple views Ansel Adams prints in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
A couple views Ansel Adams prints in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

ON VIEW

“Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West”

When: Through May 26.

Where: Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive.

SONIC Free Family Day: Noon to 5 p.m March 31, including a 2 p.m. performance by kindie rock band Sugar Free Allstars, special activities and free admission.

Third Thursday: The exhibit will be the inspiration for the museum’s April Third Thursday event, “Black & White,” from 5 to 9 p.m. April 18.

Information:www.okcmoa.com.

-BAM 

Related Photos
Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]

Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5b320b4d1651c6b1bf83f798cc3f7db4.jpg" alt="Photo - Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]" title="Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]"><figcaption>Ansel Adams' "Mount Williamson, the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c4653afee9180c0c0d2aee3790f6ea51.jpg" alt="Photo - A couple views Ansel Adams' “El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California," featured in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West," Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="A couple views Ansel Adams' “El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California," featured in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West," Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A couple views Ansel Adams' “El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California," featured in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West," Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e177a05bf13b9fd2b3e8e42c3f55cc05.jpg" alt="Photo - Lucian Clergue's (French, 1934–2014) 1985 Cibachrome print "Dune at White Sands" is featured in the exhibit “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]" title="Lucian Clergue's (French, 1934–2014) 1985 Cibachrome print "Dune at White Sands" is featured in the exhibit “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]"><figcaption>Lucian Clergue's (French, 1934–2014) 1985 Cibachrome print "Dune at White Sands" is featured in the exhibit “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b434a36087e692b6d23913c1fa0222c8.jpg" alt="Photo - A man views the Brett Weston prints that are part of Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" on Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="A man views the Brett Weston prints that are part of Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" on Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A man views the Brett Weston prints that are part of Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" on Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f7d7e04e08ee31bfa57c7eb6e4306981.jpg" alt="Photo - Edward Weston's photograph of "White Dunes" is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="Edward Weston's photograph of "White Dunes" is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Edward Weston's photograph of "White Dunes" is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c0b02b0949a06f5cfa479a96434a6c0b.jpg" alt="Photo - Brett Weston's (American, 1911–1993) "Untitled" 1946 gelatin silver print is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's exhibit "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]" title="Brett Weston's (American, 1911–1993) "Untitled" 1946 gelatin silver print is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's exhibit "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]"><figcaption>Brett Weston's (American, 1911–1993) "Untitled" 1946 gelatin silver print is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's exhibit "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4f59972e890cb879f62f31524cc4efbe.jpg" alt="Photo - A man studies the catalog while looking at Ansel Adams photographs in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="A man studies the catalog while looking at Ansel Adams photographs in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A man studies the catalog while looking at Ansel Adams photographs in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ecc4b3678f8583418ffd1a397061fa72.jpg" alt="Photo - Ansel Adams' "Tree, Stump and Mist, Northern Cascades, Washington" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]" title="Ansel Adams' "Tree, Stump and Mist, Northern Cascades, Washington" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]"><figcaption>Ansel Adams' "Tree, Stump and Mist, Northern Cascades, Washington" is featured in “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. [Image provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7f8f962aad983ed6cce3c19c391831e8.jpg" alt="Photo - A group discusses the photographs of Eliot Porter at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="A group discusses the photographs of Eliot Porter at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A group discusses the photographs of Eliot Porter at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-01f252370eb316098d556f09135cc485.jpg" alt="Photo - Eliot Porter's (American, 1901–1990) dye transfer print "Dungeon Canyon, Glen Canyon," is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]" title="Eliot Porter's (American, 1901–1990) dye transfer print "Dungeon Canyon, Glen Canyon," is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]"><figcaption>Eliot Porter's (American, 1901–1990) dye transfer print "Dungeon Canyon, Glen Canyon," is included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's “Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West." [Image provided]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9afc57a32e1c624f389c6189610f77d3.jpg" alt="Photo - A man looks at two photographs by Morley Baer included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="A man looks at two photographs by Morley Baer included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A man looks at two photographs by Morley Baer included in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b4dc8ad90fe742fa053318f704a0e5bf.jpg" alt="Photo - A couple views Ansel Adams prints in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]" title="A couple views Ansel Adams prints in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>A couple views Ansel Adams prints in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art show "Ansel Adams and the Photographers of the West" Friday, February 1, 2019. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

Comments