Ansel Adams: A Photographer’s Evolution


June 23–September 16, 2018 | Fifth Third Gallery

J. Malcolm Greany, Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984), about 1948, gelatin silver print

Ansel Adams’s breathtaking black-and-white photographs have become synonymous with the American wilderness. His best-known works express his experience in the heroic landscapes of the West: granite peaks rise triumphantly, light illuminates distant mountain ranges, rivers coil through vast expanses, and clouds swirl over the plains. Ansel Adams: A Photographer’s Evolution traces the photographer’s path to his signature style, beginning with rare early works and ending with prints Adams made late in life. In his earliest photographs, made in the 1920s, Adams embraced the prevailing Pictorialist style with intimately sized, soft-focused images. He shifted to sweeping, sharply focused views in the 1930s and ‘40s and to larger images with dramatic contrast after World War II. The exhibition concludes with a selection of late prints Adams made from earlier negatives that he considered some of his greatest works. Through iconic views and lesser-known subjects, Ansel Adams: A Photographer’s Evolution reveals Adams as a poet of light both in the field and in the darkroom.

Above: Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941. Photograph by Ansel Adams. @2015 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust