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Ansel Adams at 100 [Paperback]

Ansel Adams , John Szarkowski
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 29 2003
In commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth, Ansel Adams at 100 presents an intriguing new look at this distinguished photographer's work. The legendary curator John Szarkowski, director emeritus of the Department of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art, has painstakingly selected what he considers Adams' finest work and has attempted to find the single best photographic print of each. Szarkowski writes that "Ansel Adams at 100 is the product of a thorough review of work that Adams, at various times in his career, considered important. It includes many photographs that will be unfamiliar to lovers of Adams' work, and a substantial number that will be new to Adams scholars. The book is an attempt to identify that work on which Adams' claim as an important modern artist must rest." Ansel Adams at 100-the highly acclaimed international exhibition and the book, with Szarkowski's incisive critical essay-is the first serious effort since Adams' death in 1984 to reevaluate his achievement as an artist. The exhibition prints, drawn from important public and private collections, have been meticulously reproduced in tritone to create the splendid plates in this edition, faithfully rendering the nuances of the original prints. Ansel Adams at 100 is destined to be the definitive book on this great American artist. John Szarkowski is director emeritus of the Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is the author of such classic works as Looking at Photographs, The Photographer's Eye, Photography Until Now, and Atget, as well as several books of his own photographs, including the recently reissued The Idea of Louis Sullivan.

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From Amazon

Ansel Adams at 100 celebrates the centenary of one of America's best-loved photographers. This superlative catalog of an exhibition organized by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presents the most dramatic and the most delicate of Adams's formal compositions, from spectacular mountainscapes to grasses on a pond, all reflecting his avowedly religious relationship to nature. Previously unpublished examples of Adams's early images show how he worked through the day, using changing light and different vantage points to interpret a subject. A fascinating comparison of his darkroom techniques is given in two printings of a 1948 negative of Mount McKinley, made in 1949 and 1978 to very different effects, one brooding and luminous, the other crisp and monumental. (The conventional wisdom is to prefer the earlier, but this reviewer loves them both.) The text by John Szarkowski, director emeritus of New York MoMA's photography department, gives biographical details and gracefully places Adams in the history of 20th-century photography and the conservation movement. Impeccable technical standards were a hallmark of Adams's work, and this book follows his tradition. Each black-and-white image is a tritone, meaning that it was printed from three different plates corresponding to different parts of the original photograph's gray scale, resulting in an extremely rich chromatic range. Light really does appear to glisten off a wet rock, and white aspens to glow. The images have been very carefully chosen, each page of a double spread complementing the other. The book's paper is custom-made, it is bound in linen and presented in a linen slipcase, and a complimentary facsimile of one of Adams's icons is included. The whole adds up to a most unusual and pleasing artifact: Ansel Adams at 100 consciously sets out to be the definitive study of a master, and it succeeds. --John Stevenson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Grandly proportioned, linen-bound and graceful as the images it conveys, Ansel Adams at 100 commemorates the birth of the famous native San Franciscan photographer with 114 of Adams's rich, beloved images spanning his oeuvre, and some delightful photos of the artist. The book and accompanying centennial exhibit at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (Aug. 2001-Jan. 2002), curated by John Szarkowski, director of the department of photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art, reevaluate the impact of Adams's work on photography, landscapes and the audience. "His pictures have enlarged our visceral knowledge of things that we do not understand," writes Szarkowski. He relates specific epiphanies that propelled Adams's evolution as an artist, such as when he shot Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, having suddenly realized that using a specific filter would "deepen the tone of the sky almost to black" and capture his emotional experience of the vista.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Ansel Adams at 100 is the catalog for the museum exhibition of the same name that has been traveling the United States and Europe from 2001-2003. Unfortunately, the exhibit did not come to a city near me, so I cannot comment on how well it is represented in the book. Since I did not see the museum exhibit from which the photographs were taken, I will be commenting on how this book fares as a stand-alone "coffee table"-type book of Ansel Adams' photographs.
The book has 191 pages, is 14 1/4x12 3/4 inches in size, and is hardbound with an oatmeal-colored linen cover and slipcase. Also included with the book is a 13x11 inch reproduction print of Aspens, Dawn (1937), which is suitable for framing. The book begins with a 42-page essay on Ansel Adams' life and career (don't worry, big print) by John Szarkowski, the book's editor and the director emeritus of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art. The essay is followed by 114 tritone plates of Ansel Adams' photographs, all black-and-white.
I think the most helpful point that I can make about this book is that it is not a book of Ansel Adams' "greatest hits" or of his best photographs. I have yet to find a complete collection of either of those things. This is a very abridged version of the Ansel Adams at 100 museum exhibition which, as far as I can ascertain from the photographs in this book, sought to give the viewer a broad perspective of Ansel Adams' relationship with photography and with nature over the course of his life. Some of the photographs are great and some quite mediocre. But you will find photographs in this book that you have never seen before (unless, of course, you saw the exhibition).
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great Photographer, poor presentation Feb. 7 2002
By A Customer
Please consider this advice--If you plan on purchasing this book, please take the time to see it at a local library or bookstore before ordering it.
I was amazed to see a relatively poor review here at Amazon reviews while I was searching for this book. A review in a photography magazine deemed it a must-have for any library. The promise of high quality reproductions on heavy paper and rare photos not seen outside of large showings was promising. I also felt that for the price, one couldn't go wrong....after all, the more expensive, the less likely to be a bust, right?
Well, I am sad to say that the book is quite a disappointment for me, too. It is a heavy work, good stock. Many of the photos, despite the promise of being wonderfuly printed, are of low contrast, and detail that I know is there on some of the original prints which I've seen, is not present. The notes on photos indicate some are reproduced at life size, yet appear to be little more than thumbnails, lost on the huge background. Perhaps this is the haute presentation, but not satisfying for my expectation.
Some of the prints are quite good. "Moonrise" does not disappoint, but several of the Yosemite favorites are fuzzy, and as mentioned earlier, seem to be of low contrast. This, in a book celebrating the man who championed the Zone system to give life to the print, seems a bit out of whack. Perhaps the graphics designers and the technicians doing the transfers did their best, but having seen several original prints done by Adams (and having spent way too much time in front of them marvelling at the detail, shadows, and contrast) I can say that the flavor and excitement that I remember getting from just seeing an original Adams has not been transferred to me in this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful restrospective Sept. 9 2001
If you can only afford to buy one photo book / coffee table book this year . . . this is the book to buy. Period. This oversized book is beautifully reproduced and lovingly bound to last for ages; a commemorative print, not available elsewhere, is reproduced as a separate plate -- suitable for framing, which is a nice touch: Who among us can afford an original Ansel Adams photograph? As beautiful as this is as an example of book-making, its real value lies in the selection of photos.
Of course, no two photographers will ever agree as to what photos should have been included in this massive retrospective -- outside of the obvious ones like "Moonrise Over Hernandez County" -- but every photographer who looks at this book should find inspiration in Ansel's inimitable "eye" that saw, and captured on film, the ordinary and transformed it into the extraordinary; a photographer who saw the extraordinary and transformed it into the sublime.
As for the text: I think an academic perspective is certainly appropriate for such a retrospective, but I would dearly have loved to see a piece by, say, Joseph Holmes (NATURAL LIGHT--a gorgeous collection of photos) or another photographer to give it, so to speak, a "through the lens" perspective.
Although there are other coffee-table sized books published of Ansel Adams's work, this one sets a high watermark and, as such, should find a permanent place in the library of every serious photographer, aspiring photographer, or anyone with a sense of beauty who can appreciate the rare and wonderful talent that is Ansel Adams.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A Picture is worth a million words
Adams work speaks for itself. He spend a lifetime documenting the beauty of the natural world and defined many of the standards that we now take for granted with regard to... Read more
Published on May 4 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Disappointed
Having read many conflicting reviews regarding the quality of the prints in this book, I checked it out at the local Borders prior to deciding whether or not to make the purchase. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2003 by Scott Bulger
5.0 out of 5 stars Ansel Adams is a Master of Photography
This book is the ultimate "coffee table" book. No one can pick it up without becoming engrossed. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2002 by Dara Orkand Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent finishing, photo quality could be better.
While the book itself has been "manufactured" to very high standards, i.e., binding, paper, etc, the prints could have been of better quality. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2002 by R. Sriram
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Emotions
This is a book much heralded by the editorial community,so it was with some disappointment when I proceeded to leaf through the pages. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2002 by yee law
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Emotions
This is a book much heralded by the editorial community,so it was with some disappointment when I proceeded to leaf through the pages. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2002 by yee law
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointed
This book features few photos I found impressive, Adams is amazing this book is a sad display of his worst work.
Published on Nov. 26 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Ansel Adams at 100
WOW! What more is there to say? Plenty. This book is a have to have for any lover of the art of Black and White photography. Excellent, A+, 5 star and ten out of ten! Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2001 by Philippa Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Photos with a Hidden Meaning
This is a superb book. I was first introduced to Ansel Adams at work. While waiting to give my bi-weekly status reports to the President I reported to, there were photographic... Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2001 by Jacob Victory
5.0 out of 5 stars ADAMS AT HIS BEST
As a California-based mystery writer with my debut novel in its initial release, I have a great interest in other California-based artists in many diverse fields. Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
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