Ansel Adams: Early Works, Oct 2017

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Category: Past Exhibits


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ON VIEW IN THE MAIN GALLERY Saturday October 7, 2017 – SUNDAY January 21, 2018

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), photographer, musician, naturalist, explorer, critic and teacher, was a giant in the field of landscape photography. His work can be viewed as the end of an arc of American art concerned with capturing the “sublime” in the unspoilt Western landscape. This tradition includes the 19th century painters Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole and Thomas Moran, and the 19th century photographers Carleton Watkins, Timothy O’Sullivan and William Henry Jackson.

For much of his early adulthood, Adams was torn between a career as a concert pianist versus one in photography; later, he famously likened the photographic negative to a musical score, and the print to the performance. Yet most museum-goers are only familiar with the heroic, high-contract prints on high-gloss paper stock that Adams manufactured to order in the 1970s-80s, coinciding with the emergence of the first retail galleries devoted to photography. As performances, these later prints are akin to “brass bands.” Much less familiar are the intimate prints, rich in the middle tones – the “chamber music” – that Adams crafted earlier in his career.

This exhibition focuses on the masterful small-scale prints made by Adams from the 1920s into the 1950s. Already in this time period there is quite an evolution of printing style, from the soft-focus, warm-toned, painterly “Parmelian prints” of the 1920s; through the f/64 school of sharp-focused photography that he co-founded with Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham in the 1930s; and, after the War, towards a cooler, higher-contrast printmaking style. Throughout, Adams is revealed as a poet of light, both in the field and in the darkroom.

Ansel Adams: Early Works is organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions, LLC. All photographs are from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg.


This exhibition is graciously sponsored in part by Commonwealth Charter Academy and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.









– Friday October 6, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Member’s Preview Opening, RSVP here. Susquehanna Art Museum members are invited to celebrate the newest main gallery exhibition with an exclusive evening preview! Admission is free, but membership is required. Become a member today for access to exclusive events and discounts:

– Friday October 20, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission and NEW HOURS!  RSVP here. 

– Wednesday October 25, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday Evening Piano Salon featuring Ralph Vartan- Free with standard admission RSVP here. 

– Friday November 17, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission! RSVP here

– Wednesday December 13, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday Evening Piano Salon featuring Stuart Malina- Free with standard admission RSVP here. 

– Friday December 15, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission! RSVP here

– Friday January 19, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission! RSVP here. 

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  • Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, 1940. Photograph by Ansel Adams. Collection Center for Creative Photography. Copyright 2015 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust