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Ansel Adams in the University Of California Collections
December 12, 2001 through March 10, 2002
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is pleased to present Ansel Adams from the University of California Collections, which will open at the museum on December 12, 2001, and remain on view through March 10, 2002. The exhibition consists of a remarkable selection of photographs and memorabilia drawn from the extensive holdings of the University of California's Bancroft Library, one of the nation's leading repositories for rare and unique historical materials on the American West.
Ansel Adams from the University of California Collections presents a different perspective on Adams's career as one of the leading figures in American photography. Early photographs, including images that date from Adams's career as a commercial photographer, reveal a side to his work that is seldom seen. The exhibition features subjects not usually associated with Ansel Adams—fields planted with crops, high voltage towers, portraits, and architectural details—but photographed in a style that is distinctively Adams's own. Photographs such as the series depicting the University of California, Berkeley campus, commissioned in 1967 for the publication Fiat Lux: The University of California, reveal many of the formal characteristics associated with the photographer's acclaimed landscape images: an extremely high horizon line and exaggerated foreground, dramatic skies, frequent use of shadows as graphic elements, and low vantage point. What is truly striking about these photographs is that, despite their often banal subject matter, they successfully demonstrate the same precise focus and exceptional tonal range demonstrated in Adams's widely-known images of Yosemite Valley.
The exhibition will also feature memorabilia including personal notes and excerpts from an in-depth oral history prepared by The Bancroft Library's Oral History Office in 1978, providing a rare glimpse into Adams's personal life. Ansel Adams from the University of California Collections also presents early examples of his photography in Yosemite National Park, including a beautifully designed portfolio of 18 "Parmelian" prints of the High Sierra issued by Grabhorn Press in 1927. Adams' inspirational photography of the California landscape stemmed from a deep personal interest in the American wilderness. He enjoyed a long affiliation with one of the nation's leading environmental organizations, the Sierra Club. The Club's official records, housed at The Bancroft Library, include significant contributions by Adams. His photograph albums made for the Club's High Country excursions are included in the exhibition, along with four albums of photographs Adams printed and assembled from Joseph LeConte's original turn-of-the-century negatives of Yosemite.
Ansel Adams in the University of California Collections is curated by Jack von Euw, Curator of The Bancroft Library Pictorial Collection. Von Euw has extensive experience working with pictorial materials, including five years with the Smithsonian Institution as an archivist for the Archives of American Art and two years as assistant curator with the Visual Arts Programs of the San Francisco City Art Commission. The Pictorial Collection includes an estimated 3.5 million items in a variety of media, documenting the history of California and other locations along the West Coast.
Thursday, February 7, 12:15 p.m.
Sunday, March 10, 3 p.m.
Jack von Euw, Curator of The Bancroft Library Collection at UC Berkeley, has curated the museum's Ansel Adams exhibition. In these two gallery talks, von Euw will share his insights about the photographs on view and about Adams's relation to the University of California.