Twentieth-century American photographer Ansel Adams famously said that the photographic negative is like a composer’s score, and the print a performance. Drawn from the Ansel Adams Archive, at the Center for Creative Photography, housed in Tucson at the University of Arizona, this exhibition illustrates Adams’s meaning. Throughout the exhibition of sixty photographs, sets of prints—grouped in twos and threes—show how on different occasions Adams created varying interpretations from his own negatives. These groups demonstrate how, using the same score, Adams was constantly revising the way it was performed.
Comparing and contrasting more than one print from the same negative demonstrates Adams’s choices about cropping, dodging and burning, and overall contrast and brightness. The wealth of material from the Adams Archive also reveals how, over time, his approach to certain negatives changed as his perspective evolved, the field transformed, and the available materials shifted. Above all, these comparisons show that Adams invested time and care in each hand-made print, producing interpretive artworks that come as much from his imagination as from the landscapes before which he stood. All of the exhibition’s prints, spanning the master’s six-decade career, highlight Adams’s particular talent and sensitivity as a photographic printer.
Many of the artworks are accompanied by quotations from Adams’s published writings, in which he discussed his process for an image. The photographer was known for his role as an educator and promoter of the photographic medium as an expressive artform, and he enthusiastically shared his techniques through workshops, journal articles, and publications. This presentation invites you to explore, through Adams’s body of work, the practice of black-and-white printmaking, and the range of expression a skilled photographer can create with this most fundamental of photographic processes.
Ansel Adams: Performing the Print is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography. It is made possible through the generosity of donors to the Museum’s Circles of Support and Museum Members.
Image credit: Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, the Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, 1944. Gelatin silver print. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Ansel Adams Archive/Purchase. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
Free for Members, veterans and active-duty Military, and youth aged 5 and under.
All exhibitions are included with General Admission.
$23 — Adults
$20 — Senior Citizens (Ages 65+)
$18 — Students (with ID)
$14 — Youth (Ages 6-17)
This exhibition is open to the public for $8 (adult) / $5 (youth) during voluntary-donation, pay-what-you-wish hours from 3–9 pm each Wednesday, from 6–10 pm on the first Friday of each month, and is free for youth ages 17 and under from 10 am–5 pm on the last Saturday of each month during Creative Saturdays: Free Under 18.
Interested in coming as a group? For group sales information, click here.
Saturday, March 28 | 1 pm