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  1. #11

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    One of the things I guess that fascinates me about R. Adams is that I probably can count on one hand the number of people I know who like his work, but if you look at his biography his work may be the most collected by institutions and museums of any contemporary photographer. He has won numerous awards and honors worldwide for his work. I like the summer nights work and his projects about Los Angeles in the early 80s, but his more recent work concerning deforestation and clear cutting is pretty boring stuff that has been done over and over for 40 years.

    Maybe it's salesmanship or simply his connections in academia led to his critical acclaim. Perhaps his work in the early 70s was considered anti-capitalist and anti-establishment enough to garner the attention of the left leaning radicals that would assume positions of power in university and museum art departments in the 80s.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

  2. #12
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chinn
    Maybe it's salesmanship or simply his connections in academia led to his critical acclaim. Perhaps his work in the early 70s was considered anti-capitalist and anti-establishment enough to garner the attention of the left leaning radicals that would assume positions of power in university and museum art departments in the 80s.
    That was my take on it too Jim. Without his explanation of his agenda, his 70s work looks like nicely done pictures of a growing suburbia. Nothing special about it IMO.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  3. #13
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    Firstly, I will say that I do like this picture. It can have so many different meanings. the one that you said about the "storm enveloping the crowd," and that they (we) are easily distracted from the encroaching storm (whatever storm that is). But it could also mean that we have to keep our to our senses and see the beauty and goodness where it exists.

    What I think Robert Adams does that makes his work important is that it makes us look critically at ourselves and what we have created-- like the title of one of his books, What We Bought. That is why, I think, most people do not like his work, but respond to other photographers who make more accessible pictures-- like mountain landscapes or the side of an old barn.

    Though I do believe that, as Jim has said, "He is the best writer about photography living." Partly what makes him such an effective writer is his background in literature (he was a college english professor). Sometimes his books are difficult to read and really understand. It isn't because he uses to few or too many words, but it is the order in which they are arranged-- which is effective, but not without some work.

    I don't want to turn this into a political argument, BUT-- no I'm kidding . . . I disagree that his work would not be understood without him stating his agenda, (but maybe that is partly due to me having similar feelings about the world-- overpopulation, unchecked growth, the destruction of ecosystems and the effects it has on us and they way we live).

    I do not think though that his ties to academia that lead to his importance in photography. It has more to do with him facing issues that few were facing, and doing it so well for so long. His pictures are all very good, they might be unconventional, but they are still good. I am looking at the cover of Along Some Rivers as I write this (the one with the airplane). If the picture were composed any differently it would completely fall apart.

    There is so much more that could be said about him and his work, both as a photographer and a writer, but that is all I have in me for now.

  4. #14
    Helen B's Avatar
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    That's the first picture in Summer Nights and I find it to be a perfect opening to the magic journey that follows. It is one of those books in which the pictures have captivating static (individual) and dynamic (sequential) composition. I don't know if any of you folks have read Arthur Machen's Hill of Dreams but it reminds me of the sense of wonder in the opening paragraphs.

    Best,
    Helen

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