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Thread: Robert Adams at the Getty

  1. #11

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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    "The Robert Adams exhibition left me mystified as to his popularity. Technically the images were poor and the subject matter repetitious."

    I must say I remain confused by these comments. I admit to not having seen the particular exhibit in question, but any Adams prints I have seen in the past have generally been very good quality. Are you saying the Getty has a batch of bad prints?

    Or are you saying you have a personal dislike for his technique, style and subject matter?

    What set of standards are you using to define "technically poor" images?

  2. #12
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    applying the standards of 19th century romanticism to 20th century late modernism often leads to conclusions like "technically poor."

    the step of asking, "what vision does technique serve?" gets left out.

  3. #13

    Robert Adams at the Getty

    susan sontag make very interesting comments on modernist photography in her book "on-phoyography" and how time has revealed its rather shallow nature, at the time it was challanging but with the acceleration and sophistication of visual culture the once challanging modernist perceptions are now commonplace in every haidressing salon and ikea "rady-made lifestyle" furniture warehouse.

    the thing i find violent about the reaction to adams work, is not aesthetic, but rather moral. here is an artist who is making a statement about our treatment of the enviroment. and i feel that this here is the problem for these posters. he is classified as "in with the enviromentalists".

    and here is the partadox which i really find quite frigtening, the majority of scientific research points to the fact that we are on the verge of a major global disaster, global warming, overpoulation, etc. and yet the very people who are damming mr adams work, revere photographers whos' work sing to the beauty of nature, or rather what's left of it.

    now i am assuming that you have all had a college eduction, and here is where it become difficult to believe that with the overwelming evidence you are faced with, you cannot see what mr adams is trying so say, or even be the sightest bit sympathetic towards it.

  4. #14
    www.thinknegative.com.au
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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    I'd have to agree with Adrian Tyler's comments.

    Late last year, 2005, I was at Moma in San Francisco and viewed the exhibition there of Adams' work. At first I thought that the images were a little repetitive however about two-thirds the way through I realised why the images were being displayed that way..

    It was great, it was like walking through a huge life size contact sheet of numerous images. One could see the progression. Being designed that way it really made the viewer stop and think about the cause. My perception changed quickly - and what I mean by that is that my expectations of what I was going to see changed. I was expecting that all images be a 'fine' peice of work but it didnt need to be. Personally I chose a few images that I thought were outstanding (as anyone would - and as you would when viewing a contact sheet).

    I was glad that I was able to 'realise' the purpose of the body of work prior to viewing the end of the display of images. So then I had to back track and peice it all together in my head.

    There are many images by many photographers of the past and present that show the beauty of our environment but dont necessarily address the current issues of major concern. To be able to produce this idea through images is not an easy thing. So I figured Adams has chosen a specific area and produced a body of work from that, that highlights an environmental cause.

  5. #15

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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but a couple of points Mr. Evins brings up are just plain factually wrong.

    Robert Adams has been documenting the real state of the American West in a non-romaticized way for a very long time, atleat 30 if not 40 yearsTo claim that "he is pandering to the environmentalist crowd to give him stature. Not so unusual, that." reveals how uninformed Mr. Evins is. Robert Adams is also a first rate printer as well as a photographer and judging the quality of his work from reproductions in books is a pretty silly thing to do: We have all seen plenty of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and paul Strand photogrpahs reproduced badly too.

    You might not like what Robert (or Ansel) Adams has to say with his photographs and writing (politics) or how he says it (aesthetics) , or you might embrace it whole heartedly, but either approach says more about someone and the blinkered biases they bring to the work then the objective realities of the work itself.

  6. #16

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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but some of what Mr. Evins writes is just plain factually wrong.

    Robert Adams has been documenting the real state of the American West in a non-romaticized way for a very long time, at least 35 years. To claim that "he is pandering to the environmentalist crowd to give him stature..." reveals how uninformed Mr. Evins is about Adams.

    I also don't think Adams has ever given a particualr damn about his "stature" either. I say that based on a telephone interview I did with him a few years ago.

    Robert Adams is also a first rate printer as well as a photographer. Judging the quality of his work from reproductions in books is a pretty silly thing to do: We have all seen plenty of bad reproductions in books of the photographs by Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, Cole Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, John Sexton, Howard Bond, Jerry Uelsmann, and Paul Strand.

    You might not like what Robert (or Ansel) Adams has to say with his photographs and writing (politics) or how he says it (aesthetics), or you might embrace it whole heartedly, but either approach says more about someone and the blinkered biases they bring to the work then the objective realities of the work itself.

  7. #17

    Robert Adams at the Getty

    the majority of scientific research points to the fact that we are on the verge of a major global disaster, global warming, overpoulation

    Pluease!!!! I have stayed out of this thread because it is as always the same issue with the same participants. If someone states "I dont like this" and find it substandard....there they are Paul and Paddy arguing one does not know anything about art and one is shallow....so be it. But to read these alarmist statements that in fact are wrong, is another thing.

    Global warming is not such a cut a dry issue, in fact, if charts are drawn it shows the planet has warmed by less than a C in the last 100 years. We are certainly not in the "verge" of a disaster by global warming. The same goes for overpopulation. The planet is capable of sustaining far more people than there is at the moment. The problem is (as always) money, countries where people are dying of starvation it is not because the land cannot sustain them, but because of poor land management, outdated crop planting and harvesting techniques which coupled with poor health mantainance and internal warfare make these places hell on earth, but lets make no mistake these are man made factors, not a global disaster due to overpopulation.

    If you guys want to argue back and forth about the prints being good or not, knock yourselves out. Arguing that Adams' work is relevant because of it's environmental "impact" IMO is silly and shallow, the pictures are rather obvious, and like it was written above repetitive.

  8. #18

    Robert Adams at the Getty

    thank you jorge for illuminating so brilliantly the point i was trying to make in my previos post.

  9. #19
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    "Robert Adams has been documenting the real state of the American West in a non-romaticized way for a very long time, at least 35 years."

    I think this is part of the key to Adams work. I must say in all the years I've looked at his work, it never occurred to me that he was an "environmentalist" - much more that he just photographed what he saw.

    Huge tracts of N America are just plain butt ugly. And we are making it uglier all the time. The place most people live are mind numbingly mundane. In large part, to drive across the West can be a profoundly depressing experience, never quite off-set by moment of the beautiful or sublime that are encountered along the way. Yet - as human beings are wont to do - we adapt to this - emotionally, psychologically (a bit like he "wealthy tourist or snowbird who can vacation in comfort some second world country while ignoring the poverty and dilapidation around them). I've always thought of Adams work as being much more "humanist" (small h and for want of a better word?) than environmentalist. He focuses on what is, not what we would like it to be or what it once was - yet he never quite seems to lose hope. If he has a message, I think it's "just look"
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  10. #20
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Robert Adams at the Getty

    "People would walk in and just walk right out of the two rooms he was in"

    Twenty five years ago, the Museum of New Mexico opened a new wing with an exhibit of Ansel Adams and Georgia Okeefe. Ansel on one side and Georgia on the other. This was arguable some of the most important work done in the American West this century. I went to the exhibit many times just sitting and absorbing. It was one of those really profound museum experiences.

    90 percent of the people walked less than 4 feet into this wing, glanced around for a few seconds and immediately walked out.

    We live in a largely visually illiterate society that does not appreciate established masters much less more conceptual artists like Robert Adams.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 68
    "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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