Ansel Adams: A Celebration of Wilderness

September 28, 2003 - January 4, 2004

from the Wildling Art Museum

August 23, 2003


Los Olivos ~ Images by America’s greatest wilderness photographer were on display at the Wildling Art Museum, Los Olivos, which begun September 28. “Ansel Adams: A Celebration of Wilderness” showcased more than 30 photographs from “The Museum Set”, a collection of 75 images chosen by Adams and printed under his supervision during the last years of his life. Born in 1902, the artist died in 1984. “The Museum Set includes many of the artist’s most famous photographs made over his forty-five year career,” said Karen Sinsheimer, Curator of Photography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and guest curator for the exhibition. “As the name suggests, these sets were intended for museum collections worldwide and constituted the artist’s self-chosen, definitive portfolio—the group of images by which he wanted to be remembered.”

The exhibit, which will run through January 4, 2004, will include some of Adams’ most famous and sublime images as well as several less well-known photographs. Dating from 1921 to 1967, they show the natural beauty of such varied places as Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, Yosemite National Park, and sand dunes in New Mexico. All were personally re-printed by Ansel Adams during the last years of his life, when, according to the art historian, Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., he sought to give his images “maximum impact—greater and greater depth of tone and strength of contrast, and larger scale and monumentality of effect.”

Adams, who was trained as a concert pianist, before being captivated by photography on his first trip to Yosemite in 1916, often likened the photographic negative to the musical score, and the print to a particular musical performance. “That is why” he said “the pictures I make of the same subject over the years will be very different… Each performance [of a print] is a creation, the creation of something new.” The prints from the “Museum Set,” are not only the artist’s favorite images, but what he believed was his most expressive printing of them. “The images being shown in this exhibition are in the personal collection of Adams’ daughter, Anne Adams Helms, who has graciously made them available to us”, said Penny Knowles, Executive Director of the Wildling Art Museum. “Needless to say, we are honored and excited about presenting them to Santa Barbara County.”

Adams was recognized during his lifetime both for his photography and for his tireless advocacy for preserving America’s wilderness. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Carter in 1980. The Wildling Art Museum, which focuses on the art of America’s wilderness, was located in Los Olivos, CA at 2329 Jonata Street (between Mattei’s Tavern and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church). Public hours for the Adam’s exhibition were Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission was $5.00 (Members and children twelve and under free).

Captions for attached photo files:

Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1960

Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake, Denali National Park, California, 1947

Aspens, Dawn, Dolores River Canyon, Autumn, Colorado, 1937

Sequoia Gigantea Roots, Yosemite National Park, California, c. 1950.