Cover image for Ansel Adams : divine performance
Ansel Adams : divine performance
Hammond, Anne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 196 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR140.A3 H36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Ansel Adams's magnificent photographs of the American wilderness are recognized and admired the world over. Adams is also a major cultural figure in American history, shaping many of our current views of the natural world through his compelling and accessible images. Despite his significance, little scholarly attention has been paid to Adams's contributions as an artist or his place in photographic history. This work addresses this gap by taking a look beyond the photographer's reputation as a Sierra Club environmentalist and examining in depth his life as an artist and the complexities of his creative vision.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

As a photographer, artist, and especially gifted contributor to our perception of the American landscape, Ansel Adams seems to be the subject of continual discovery. In this quiet and thoughtful work, photo historian and researcher Hammond (Frederick Evans) gives us still more on Adams's life, aesthetics, methodology, and evolution as an artist. Her book refuses to engage in the fits of impassioned academic overanalysis that usually weigh down critical books about genius; instead, Hammond keeps Adams's biography and her criticism of the images on track. While readers may question the need for yet another book on Adams, Hammond offers a careful portrayal of the photographer and the life that he lived along with his art, placing his work in the contexts of time, place, and influence. This volume makes a solid contribution on several levels, not the least of which is its articulating some very essential notions on the structure of thought and visual objectives within the basics of photography. In the case of Ansel Adams, this structure gave us exceptional, even reassuring art that has made its way into the subconscious of millions of viewers. Recommended for most collections. David Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Hammond's well-written, insightful monograph identifies, clarifies, and emphasizes Adams's aesthetic and spiritual philosophy and the ways in which these ideas were manifested in his photographs. In this major contribution, she places Adams within the context of American and European inquiry and demonstrates his familiarity with theosophy in the 1920s, the influence of Stieglitz and his philosophy in the 1930s, and the maturation of Adams's own thinking about the beautiful and the divine in subsequent decades. Her analysis and illustrations of the idea of equivalents are effective and persuasive as is her discussion of the interactions among photographers with similar goals but different interpretations--specifically Weston, Strand, and Minor White as well as Stieglitz. She successfully balances the abstract with the concrete and examines Adams's concurrent involvement with the Sierra Club, mountaineering, and photographic publications in his early career. She discusses his work under Guggenheim grants and for the Department of the Interior, and the book and exhibition (with Nancy Newhall) that grew out of earlier projects. Hammond is greatly involved with issues of content and form, and her research is extensive, wide ranging, and convincingly pulled together. A criticism: several photographs are identified by plate number, but there were no plates, only figures. No list of illustrations. All levels. S. Spencer North Carolina State University