Ansel Adams At 100. Reviews?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by dan_blair|2, Sep 10, 2001.

  1. Has anyone purchased or seen in person the book Ansel Adams At 100? If so, can you provide your thoughts or a review?

    <p>

    Thanks.

    <p>

    Dan
     
  2. I spent almost two hours looking at the book (I didn't purchase it
    eventually). See:
    http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~qtluong/photography/lf/books/landscape-bw.html
     
  3. while i have thoroughly enjoyed several of mr szarkowski's previous
    books, i just cant imagine that the world needed another book about
    ansel adams.
     
  4. If you have most of Adams' other exhibition books (i.e., not merely
    his technical guides), you'll want this one to complete your
    collection. If you don't have many of his other books, the $150 might
    be better divided up among several of the earlier collections and
    then waiting for this one if/when it's released in paperback.

    <p>

    Especially valuable in the new book are some vintage vs. later print
    comparisons, which are not available anywhere else; Szarkowski
    generally prefers the former and explains why. I was pleased to see
    some lesser-known (and unknown) images, but wish there had been more
    of AA's abstract/modernist/closeup work and not as many pure
    landscapes. But the people who buy AA's books and calendars
    apparently prefer the "Wagnerian" landscapes (Ralph Steiner's phrase)
    so the publishers understandably emphasized the kind of pictures they
    know will sell.

    <p>

    The best part of the book, interestingly enough, may be the essay by
    Szarkowski, perhaps the finest writer on photography of our time (to
    my mind the only one who comes close to him is Robert Adams; for what
    it's worth, both are accomplished photographers). Szarkowski has read
    just about everything ever written by and about Ansel and puts it all
    into clear perspective, from claims that Adams printed more contrast
    in later years because his eyesight was failing (not the whole story,
    he says) to Adams' realization at mid-century that his creative years
    were behind him. It is the best essay on Adams I've read anywhere.

    <p>

    The printing quality of the book is exceptional, though I'm still
    partial to the work of Dave Gardner, who printed most of the previous
    AA/Little Brown books and is still doing the annual AA calendars
    (including the 2002 "AA at 100" calendar; I haven't been able to
    compare the reproductions in the calendar to those in the book).

    <p>

    Bottom line: A nice piece and a reasonably fresh centenary
    assessment, given how overexposed (and some would say overrated) AA
    is (it would be a wonderful gift for many photographers). I still
    wish that someone would assemble a more comprehensive and critical
    overview of hundreds of AA images (ala Amy Conger's heavyweight
    catalogue of CCP's Weston archive), putting in some of AA's
    commercial work, his awful portraits, and a detailed review of his
    career trajectory, workload, and client list. Given the stranglehold
    that the AA Publishing Rights Trust has on AA's work, however
    (witness the wretched "AA in Color" book and their refusal to let
    Jonathan Spaulding reprint any AA photos in his relatively uncritical
    but not-fully-authorized biography), we're only likely to get the
    sanitized Adams. Viewed in that constricting light, the "AA at 100"
    actually manages to break a surprising amount of new ground.

    <p>

    By the way, many Borders stores have the book in stock should you
    wish to look at it before buying.

    <p>

    <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
     
  5. Dan,

    <p>

    I recently purchased the book. Although it is expensive, I think it
    is worth having for a couple of reasons: First, great care has
    gone into the reproduction and presentation of the prints. Most
    of us get to see original Adams prints only in museums for
    perhaps a few hours every couple of years. (And when I saw the
    Adams exhibit in Portland, Maine two years ago, the lighting was
    deliberately dim to help preserve the prints.) For those of us who
    print large-format black and white landscapes, it is both
    instructive and inspirational to have good reproductions of
    Adams's work readily to hand. Second, the sequencing of the
    images is very interesting. There is some loose grouping by
    subject. Plates 35 to 45, for example, are photographs of dead
    trees or details of stumps. Plates 72 to 74 are photographs of
    Lake McDonald taken from the same camera position, where
    differences in the water, sky, focal length of the lens used, and
    the printing, give each image a different feeling. Plates 104-105
    and 109-110 show the same negative printed by Adams at
    different times. The two prints of Mt. McKinley and Wonder Lake,
    Plates 109-110 are particularly fascinating to contemplate in light
    of the commentary from John Szarkowski, who writes the
    introductory essay. Szarkowski not only finds the earlier print
    superior to the later, he writes as if the later print (made in the
    late 70's) were actually grotesque: "Why this radiant peak . . .
    should have been transformed into a dirty snowdrift is a mystery
    to this viewer." I confess I prefer the later print, but Szarkowski's
    provocative comments have certainly impelled me to articulate
    and defend my preference.

    <p>

    In sum, I strongly recommend the book, but do urge you to shop
    around on line for the best price. Amazon.com had the best
    price that I could find ($105).

    <p>

    David Mark
     
  6. If you're going to purchase the book through amazon.com, by
    following the link
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0821225154/alargeformatphot/
    you'd help support the LF page :)
     
  7. Does anybody else take issue with the title of this book?<br>I hate to
    break it to the author, but Ansel Adams is dead! He did not reach his
    100th birthday, and now never will.<br>A book really showing the work
    of Ansel Adams at 100 would be a very slim, not to say ethereal,
    volume indeed.
     
  8. Pete, at least in the US this kind of titling isn't uncommon. There
    was a very good little book of essays on Weston called "EW 100"
    published on the 100th anniversary of his birth, and I also know of
    an "F. Scott Fitzgerald at 100" centennial tribute (like "AA at 100,"
    both of these books were definitely posthumous publications).
     
  9. The book is available in paperback from the SFMOMA; I recently saw the
    show and purchased the book while there. The show was well rounded
    for what Szarkowski set out to do but previous to seeing this show I
    saw the "In Praise of Nature" show at the George Eastman House and
    found that to be superior in overall quality not to mention the other
    fine photographer included in the exhibition.
     
  10. I saw this book, and frankly, I didn't think it offered that much that is new. I have several Ansel Adams books, and I didn't see the value of including this one as well.

    Also, I wasn't that impressed with the selection of photos. Many of the photographs lacked "vista" for which A.A. was so well known. At the same time, I know that the editor wanted to include photo's that hand't been as much in the public eye.
     
  11. Like Neil, I did take a close look at the book and decided against buying it, for the same reason. I have 5-6 Ansel's books already and this one would not have added much to them. If I did not have any of his books, I think it would be better to buy 2-3 of his other books for the same money.
     

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