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Thread: NYT Adams

  1. #1

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    NYT Adams

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/20/arts/design/20chan.html?8hpib=&pagewanted=print

  2. #2

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    NYT Adams

    I liked this from the end of the review:

    "Often there is no point of focus, no center, in a picture by Mr. (Robert) Adams. You don't immediately know what you are looking at. The images require unpacking. People are mostly absent, too, save for the machinery and wreckage they sometimes leave behind.



    Mr. Adams descends from a long line of Western photographers, starting with great ones like Timothy O'Sullivan and Carleton Watkins, but including the early surveyors who mapped the landscape. "At their best," Mr. Adams has said about these journeymen surveyors, they "accepted limitations and faced space as the anti-theatrical puzzle it is a stage without a center. The resulting pictures have an element almost of banality about them.

    You can detect the influence of Walker Evans and then of the whole cool, stripped down aesthetic of minimalism and post-minimalist land art, which emerged on the scene, claiming its stake out West, as Mr. Adams did, during the 1960's and 70's. Many of the pictures in "Turning Back" linger over stretches of cleared timber, branches littering the foreground like bones at a mass grave, the clinical affect mitigating pictorial theatrics.



    The memorial mood is gradually superseded and overwhelmed by the uplifting sense of a photographer who really sees. The grace of well-made art is its own form of redemption, Mr. Adams reminds us."




    He adds, as if talking about himself, "it is exactly this acknowledgment of the plain surface to things that helps legitimize the photographer's difficult claim that the landscape is coherent."

    </I>Robert Adams is one of my favorite photographers. He is also one of my favorite writers about photography and photographs. I find his images anything but banal: his is a way of looking directly at things as they are but with he clarity of someone who is a great artist and calm thinker.

    If you are unfamiliar with his writings and photography , start with his book 'Beauty and Photography: In Defense of Traditional Values".

  3. #3

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    NYT Adams

    My only experiences with Robert Adams' photographs have been reproductions in books. I find them less than impressive; actually more visually boring than thought provoking -- almost like they were snapshots included just to accompany and illustrate his really excellent writing. I have to wonder: are his originals, the prints themselves, of such masterful quality that when viewed one is sucked into them, or are they just photographic dry bones?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  4. #4
    Michael Alpert
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    NYT Adams

    Frank, thank you for posting the link, which I would have otherwise missed. Michael Kimmelman's fine review presents the artwork and its subject with appropriate dignity. The phrase "serving reality" is an apt way to see Robert Adams' work.

    Ellis, I agree with your assessment. I also find the presentation of subject matter within Adams' photographs to be intellectually and emotionally honest. A singularity of vision informs his visual work and his writing. They come from the same heart.

  5. #5
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    NYT Adams

    Thanks, Ellis.

    I also share your feelings toward Adams. I often get confused by the "banal" and "snapshot" kinds of comments, because the subtleties of his images seem so rich and lush to me.

    I also feel that most of the praise of his work stops short of where it ought to go. So much of what's written about him seems to suggest he hasn't done anything new since the '70s, but he's done whole bodies of work since then. The newer work comes from the same man and the same search, but has gone so much farther--beyond loss and bitterness to different kinds of acceptance and restored affection. If anyone hasn't seen Listening to the River, West from the Columbia, Cottonwoods, or Summer Nights, I'd urge you to take a look.

    Adams has always seemed like one of the great visionaries of the medium to me--a model of passion, honesty, and intellectual vigor somehow sustaining itself in a world dominated by fashion and cynicism.

  6. #6

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    NYT Adams

    "Adams has always seemed like one of the great visionaries of the medium to me--a model of passion, honesty, and intellectual vigor somehow sustaining itself in a world dominated by fashion and cynicism."

    I absolutely agree, and did not mean otherwise just because I don't respond emotionally to his photographs. Wish I did.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  7. #7
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    NYT Adams

    Bill, no one can talk you into changing your favorite flavor of ice cream!

    I do wonder if if you've spent time with any of those books I mentioned ... and I mean really spent some time. A lot of his work takes a while to start revealing itself.

  8. #8

    NYT Adams

    I wonder whether Adams' work might suffer in the eyes of some as it falls outside the mainstream of "popular fine art," that is, fine art photographs that depend on large scale, immediate visual impact, more direct iconography, or overtly tugging at the heartstrings. More subtle, literate work like Adams' can be overlooked. I've found it worth spending time with.

  9. #9
    Jim Ewins
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    NYT Adams

    After reading Kimmellmans "fine review...appropriate dignity...", I'm motivated to see more of Adams work. What turns me off is the B.S. spread by reviewers, the images can speak for themselves.

  10. #10

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    NYT Adams

    I think that for the many people who hope to find in landscapes what they see in the work of the other Adams, Robert Adams's photos can seem to be saying nothing at all. Although I do wonder if anyone not already interested in his work would bother reading a review about it, let alone going to see it in a gallery after reading the review.

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