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Thread: Szarkowski on St. Ansel

  1. #1
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    Interesting interview from a few years ago, when Ansel Adams at 100 came out ...

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/196180/104-5504208-6981500

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    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    "Ansel was cordial even to the penniless, unknown photographers who showed up at his doorstep. Bill Turnage has told me that every night--every night--there were photographers at his home at cocktail hour with photographs for him to look at. He was a terribly kind man......." My experience with him exactly.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    Lots of good and thought-provoking ideas in there - thanks for posting...

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    unexposed darr's Avatar
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    "His landscapes aren't about geology; they're about weather." John Szarkowski

    What profound insight!

    Thank you Paul for the post.

    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda, photoscapes.com

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    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    I wasn't going to say anything. I wasn't. I don't like Szarkowski - I think his understanding of photography decays rapidly as you leave the confines of NYC. So I was just going to be quiet.

    But that quote "His landscapes aren't about geology; they're about weather" sums it up my problem with Szarkowski. He misses the point completely - Adams' landscapes are about natural beauty and how Adams felt about it. I'm not terribly surprised that Szarkowski doesn't get it; it occurs outside of Manhattan.

    Bruce Watson

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    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    "He misses the point completely - Adams' landscapes are about natural beauty and how Adams felt about it. I'm not terribly surprised that Szarkowski doesn't get it; it occurs outside of Manhattan."

    Well - Szarkowski is from the midwest and is still very much a prairie boy at heart. He has also spent much of his "time in Manhattan" actually on his farm and orchard in upstate NY - much of that photographing trees and the land.

    In my few conversations with him, Szarkowski has never seemd to have any problem "getting" natural beauty - which aspects of my work are about and certainly much of his own personal work is as well.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  7. #7
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    Bruce, Szarkowski is not trying to sum up a man's life work with one word (be it geology, weather, or beauty). As Michael points out, that statement came in the context of a larger point--an interesting one, I think.

    That whole interview is really just a sound bite compared with the essay he wrote in the Ansel at 100 book (which has more depth than anything else I've seen on Ansel's work).

    For what it's worth, Szarkowski came to New York late in his life, by way of rural Wisconsin and Minnesota. He was a dark horse candidate for the job at MoMA; a country bumkin compared with anyone else under consideration, or anyone else who has held the post.

    It's one thing to say you disagree with him. To say "he doesn't get it" might come off as a little presumpuous. Szarkowski worked with Ansel for decades. I'm not sure what your claim to the final word is.

  8. #8

    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    Gentlemen,

    Threads like this one are the kind that make me proud and pleased to participate in this forum!

    When it comes to John Szarkowski I really know only one thing. I owe my discovery that I had the hard-wiring to love, practice, and appreciate photography after stumbling across his "Looking at Photographs" in the 80's.

    Robert

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    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    I never claimed to have the final word. Why would anyone think that I did?

    I admit that I've never liked Szarkowski's work. I thought perhaps it was because I hadn't seen enough of it -- NYC is too far away. But it was the Ansel Adams at 100 exhibit that really made me question the reverence with which Szarkowski is so often treated. I couldn't easily put it into words; I'm a photographer, not a writer. But I did find an article that is fairly articulate; my feelings about that exhibit are fairly accurately echoed by the author.

    Sorry I can't find a link to the whole article. It's the copyright owner's prerogative not to show it I suppose.

    Bruce Watson

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    Szarkowski on St. Ansel

    > "His landscapes aren't about geology; they're about weather." John Szarkowski

    Wasn't it Beaumont Newhall that started the thing about how Ansel included more of the sky in later photos? Seem to remember that from a some book read years ago. Maybe in the History.

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