From: Katharine Thayer (email@example.com)
Date: 09/02/02-12:13:02 PM Z
Keith Gerling wrote:
. And some of Szarkovski's points are jut plain silly. What did he
> call Adams' depiction of Mt. McKinley? A "dirty snowdrift"? C'mon!
In context, the remark makes sense, in my opinion. Comparing the two
prints of this negative included in the show, the first printed in 1949,
the second in 1978, the difference is striking. Granted, I have only
the catalogue reproductions, not the actual prints, but I've been told
by one who should know that the reproductions in this book are
beautifully printed and true to the originals. In the 1949 print, the
snow on the mountain is white, and in the 1978 print, the snow is grey,
the color of ashes, looking in fact very much like a dirty snowdrift.
But to be fair you should take the entire two or three paragraph passage
in which the remark is embedded, rather than simply taking the remark
out of context.
Szarkowski writes: "in general the fifties and sixties were dry decades,
and after that Adams' energies were devoted to his duties as a
conservation leader and to the obligations of fame, and to the
reinterpretation of work done years before.
"Toward the end of his career this reinterpretation seemed at time to
amount almost to parody. The lyrical precision and perfect balance of
his earlier work he reworked in his old age, too often replacing the
elegance with melodrama and the reverence with something approaching
bombast. ... The change imposed on Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake thirty
years later is not easy to understand. Why this radiant peak...should
have been transformed into a dirty snowdrift is a mystery to this
"And yet it was surely Adams' right to make the change, and we should
not be too swift, or too confident, in judging him wrong. It has been
suggested that the change may have been caused by Adams' faltering
vision, but the explanation seems not wholly persuasive. And perhaps
there is a kind of logic in the radical late prints: perhaps they
describe the completion of a change of view that had been taking place
for many years. Those who are committed to the idea of art as
self-expression might value these late prints as the last testament of
an artist whose view of the world had darkened."
> I guess my point here was, contrary to what Judy says, not ALL critics are
> ready to sweep Adams into the "kitsch file". But that doesn't necessary
> mean that they have any great understanding of it.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Katharine Thayer [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 10:26 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: "CALENDAR ARTIST"
> Keith Gerling wrote:
> > I saw John Szarkowski's "Ansel at 100" MOMA show not too long ago. HE
> > to have deliberately avoided making reference to the "Ansel as Calendar
> > Artist", featuring small works, and omitting the BIG Adams "trademark"
> > works. I just thought I would make mention of this.
> I was just about to bring that up, Keith; you beat me to it.
> Szarkowski's catalogue essay for the show is thoughtful and respectful
> and really seems to get to the heart of the man and his work; he
> certainly doesn't dismiss Adams as a calendar artist.
> I'd never cared much for Adams until I mentioned in passing to someone
> on this list that Adams' work hurt my eyes, and he pointed me to the
> earlier work, which I like much better. So I'll have to disagree with
> Keith about the show; I prefer Szarkowski's choice of what he considers
> Adams' "more important" work to the better known later stuff, while
> still agreeing with those arguing that Adams was an important
> photographer whose work will pass the test of time; in fact it has
> already. There's very little that's been done in the last 20-30 years,
> in my opinion, (big names, I mean) that will hold up in the same way as
> Adams and Weston have
> Katharine Thayer
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