The work of one of the most revered artists in American history soon will be on view at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“Ansel Adams: An American Perspective” will feature nearly 60 black-and-white photographs and include examples of Adams’ work from 1920 to 1965. Organized by the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, the exhibit will open Saturday and remain on view through June 1.
“Ansel Adams is a very important and widely recognized photographer, and the museum has not exhibited his work before. So, we thought this would be a great chance to bring his work to Oklahoma City and to pair it with an exciting exhibition of work by a contemporary, Brett Weston, from our own permanent collection,” said Oklahoma City Museum of Art Curator Alison Amick.
“Our museum has a strong and growing photography collection … and we are looking at ways to highlight all artistic mediums. And this is just a wonderful opportunity to do that.”
Born in 1902 in San Francisco, Adams is credited with expanding the practice and appreciation of the art form as no other photographer has before or since. He created more than 40,000 photographs, helped organize the first museum photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and developed the first academic photography department at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute).
“People are excited about it,” said communications manager Ralph Cornelius, adding the staff already has fielded inquiries from several photography clubs. “I’m hoping that it will bring a new group of people in that wouldn’t ordinarily come to the museum.”
The Adams exhibit will share the first-floor special exhibitions space with a show of 150 photographs by another major 20th century photographer: Brett Weston. Organized by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, “Brett Weston: Land, Sea and Sky” celebrates a recent gift of more Weston photographs from Christian Keesee.
“We’ve created a darkroom space that will separate the two exhibitions,” Amick said. “One of the objectives that we identified for these paired exhibitions was the importance of how to make a photograph … especially in this digital age where photography has changed so much.”
Both Adams and Weston were acclaimed American photographers renowned for their dramatic depictions of the natural world.
“The approaches are very different. What they do share in common is this idea of what we call ‘straight photography,’ the idea that when these photographers were really getting their start, launching their careers, photography was still sort of making its way in the art world. Many photographers were trying to imitate paintings and other forms of artistic expression in their photography. But there were a number of photographers — including the two of them — that felt that a photograph should look like a photograph and that was OK,” she said.