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Books & GravuresRobert Adams

March 20, 2008

Drawing inspiration from nature’s inherent beauty, the photography of Robert Adams describes the evolution of the Western landscape over the past four decades; revealing the impact of human activity on the last vestiges of wilderness and open space. Through his refined and sparsely populated black-and-white photographs, Adams exposes the hollowness of the nineteenth-century American doctrine, Manifest Destiny.

In this film, Adams describes the importance of developing relationships between photographs while composing an art book, and discusses the intrinsic beauty of working with photogravure plates.

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Producer: Susan Sollins & Nick Ravich. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Doug Dunderdale. Editor: Steven Wechsler. Artwork courtesy: Robert Adams. Thanks: Matthew Marks Gallery & Fraenkel Gallery.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Robert Adams

Robert Adams’ refined black-and-white photographs document scenes of the American West of the past four decades, revealing the impact of human activity on the last vestiges of wilderness and open space. Although often devoid of human subjects, or sparsely populated, Adams’s photographs capture the physical traces of human life: a garbage-strewn roadside, a clear-cut forest, a half-built house. An underlying tension in Adams’s body of work is the contradiction between landscapes visibly transformed or scarred by human presence and the inherent beauty of light and land rendered by the camera.

“As all photographers know, one good picture next to another good picture, and you have a third something. It may be better, it may be worse.”

Robert Adams


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Kiki Smith

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Robert Adams discusses his 2005 book of photography, Turning Back: A Photographic Journal of Re-Exploration.

Robert Adams

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Robert Adams

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Robert Adams

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Robert Adams discusses his personal motivations for art-making, as well as his own understanding of beauty and the purpose of art.