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Thread: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

  1. #11

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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lindquist View Post

    A factoid probably of no interest of anyone, I remember seeing him and his assistant at the time photographing Charter Day ceremonies at UC Berkeley in Spring 1964. In fact I think I can pick myself out in the photo reproduced in the McGraw-Hill book. I graduated early 1966, as I like to say, that was a bad year to use up your student deferment.

    David
    Interest to me, David. I was working as a photographer on the UC Campus during the period you mention, and later. I was hired in 1961 as staff photographer and lab technician in the Graphic Arts Department. Most anything happening that needed a photographer, I was there. You may recall the Blue & Gold Yearbooks; I made the prints that went to the engraver. My first big event to cover was when President Kennedy spoke on Charter Day in 1962, and filled Memorial Stadium with a crowd of 80,000. I was with a very large international press, and cleared by Secret Service to accompany him as he approached the rostrum from the North tunnel. I then rushed up to the press box to get an overall of the festivities with a Speed Graphic and 90mm Angulon, shot on Ektachrome. It was a big event in my life; I was just twenty.

    Little did I know that eighteen months later President Kennedy would be my Commander in Chief. So, I missed the 1964 Charter Day you mention, but did return to my old job and photographed Ansel at the 1968 Centennial of the University of California. He had received an Honorary Degree from the university in 1961. I sent him prints from the day, and in return received a kind acknowledgement typed with his arthritic fingers. He conveyed his disappointment with the Charter Day ceremonies, but that is a political topic. It is directly related as to why Ansel's archive is at the University of Arizona, and not with the University of California.

    Heroique, please accept my apologies for this diversion. I will add, that my guess is the Hasselblad was used for the photo in question; there are letters in the archive from both Calumet and Hasselblad pertaining to this project; the photo has a Hasselblad look, to me.

  2. #12
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    The image has triggered many elegiac comments about the times – maybe it’s partly because the rehearsing students are seen in 1960s hairstyles and fashions, not Greek costumes; and to be sure, the foggy scene does make it seem dreamy, appearing out of distant memories, like an ancient myth.

    After some sleuthing, I discovered brief remarks, in a Theater Times article, by the very teacher who’s standing in the scene with clasped hands, Professor Robert Cohen, who retired from UCI in 2015:

    “This was the 1960s,” Cohen recalls, “which was the heyday of experimental theater, and my Oedipus was intended as a revolutionary production. […] Ansel Adams shot for about three hours. It was a foggy day, which I regretted but he didn’t. He was enthusiastic about the work we were doing, asked tons of questions, delighted in our Greek chanting and improvised dancing. He had a large format camera [more likely Hasselblad, as posters above suggest] and shot sparingly, but each of the images that I eventually saw was superb. He had no assistant, and I don’t recall that he used any light reflectors or other paraphernalia now common on such shoots. It also turned out that he was a theater buff, very active in his community theater in Carmel, where he lived at the time, and extremely keen on avant-garde theater, which is how we classed ourselves. So, we became friends in the process.”

    A cultural time and place whose flaws and aspirations are long-vanished, but not forgotten.

  3. #13
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    As I repeatedly heard it, correctly or not, his print and pictures book sales alone, or art-side of his career, didn't really launch into full orbit as a financial success until he was nearly 80. That no doubt contributed to his commercial success long beforehand by placing him the spotlight; but it was really his heirs and formal trust that benefitted most dollar-wise. A major chunk of his income was due to him being paid in stock for testing and promoting Polaroid instant-print materials. Another factor was just demographics. People like him and even the starving artist types like Edward Weston bought scenic coastal properties affordably back then, which subsequently skyrocketed into stratospheric resort pricing.

  4. #14
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    As I repeatedly heard it, correctly or not, his print and pictures book sales alone, or art-side of his career, didn't really launch into full orbit as a financial success until he was nearly 80. That no doubt contributed to his commercial success long beforehand by placing him the spotlight; but it was really his heirs and formal trust that benefitted most dollar-wise. A major chunk of his income was due to him being paid in stock for testing and promoting Polaroid instant-print materials. Another factor was just demographics. People like him and even the starving artist types like Edward Weston bought scenic coastal properties affordably back then, which subsequently skyrocketed into stratospheric resort pricing.
    Weston's property was a wedding gift from his farther-in-law and the original house (more like a really nice cabin) was built by his son and is still in the family. I don't know about Adams.

  5. #15
    http://www.spiritsofsilver.com tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    I thought that Ansel Adams was instrumental in getting Weston a house in Carmel.

    Thomas

  6. #16
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    Quote Originally Posted by tgtaylor View Post
    I thought that Ansel Adams was instrumental in getting Weston a house in Carmel.

    Thomas
    I am not aware that Adams had any influence in Weston moving to Carmel, but I don't really know that much about Adams. My understanding is Weston first moved to San Francisco to work for a portrait photographer and ended up in the photographer's cottage in Carmel. He later met and became Charis Wilson's lover and after their Guggenheim trips, settled at Wild Cat Hill, property belonging to Charis' father. It became a wedding gift when Edward and Charis married years later.

  7. #17
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    I heard EW managed to buy some additional property nearby in Carmel Valley when that was still undeveloped, which became a subsequent source of family wealth. Marriage itself was a rather tenuous thing with him. His own source of routine income, aside from incidental grants, was a portrait studio in Monterey. That side of his work almost never gets seen. His heart certainly wasn't in it. I still have family in the area, but haven't been in Carmel itself since way back during my own gallery gigs there. When my father was still alive, I'd take him through long scenic drives past Carmel Valley way back into the hills and round about - quite a bit of that burnt last year due to a local trying to arson evidence of his own "gardening" hobby. And now the route south along Hwy 1, past Big Sur, is totally out for awhile, due to another major slide this past winter.

  8. #18

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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I heard EW managed to buy some additional property nearby in Carmel Valley when that was still undeveloped, which became a subsequent source of family wealth. Marriage itself was a rather tenuous thing with him. His own source of routine income, aside from incidental grants, was a portrait studio in Monterey. That side of his work almost never gets seen.
    Edward Weston never owned property in Carmel Valley, nor did he have a portrait studio in Monterey. The Wildcat Hill property in the Carmel Highlands was deeded to him by Charis after their divorce. For his portrait sittings in Carmel, he used Johan Hagemeyer's studio. As for family wealth, Edward died with an account of of slightly over $300 dollars in the bank.

  9. #19
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    Thanks, Merg. Well, I was correct about his starving artist status. But where did that money that allowed Peggy Weston's gallery and related real estate holdings come from? Did Cole somehow gain independent financial momentum? Carmel was already becoming a very expensive town to buy real estate in. I've saw a lot of EW's portrait work when a nephew of Morley Baer inherited a huge lot of it and unsuccessfully tried to sell it off piece by piece at fine art pricing, along with Morley's own seconds.

  10. #20
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: Ansel Adams' portrait of tragedy

    Tree growing out of man's head... tsk, tsk, tsk.

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