Influences #2

I very rarely buy books by photographers, although I think that the book is the natural format for showing a body of work I can rarely justify the cost of these beautiful, but often costly items. The ones I do own are purchases that I have thought about over and over before actually taking the item to the till. Recently I bought a book that I never thought I would own, but thankfully earlier this year it was reissued and is available online for a very reasonable price. Robert Adams’ The New West was originally published in 1974 and documents the changes in the landscape that Adams could see as the American West was slowly covered in tract housing and shopping malls.

Outdoor Theatre Colorado Spring 1968 by Robert Adams

I remember being introduced to the photographs of Robert Adams at University and I was attracted by his sparse and subtle images that seemed a refreshing change to the dramatic American landscapes like the ones made by his namesake Ansel Adams. These photographs of building sites, drive-ins, new houses and scrub-land showed a place in unavoidable flux, brought on by the the nations continued prosperity and wealth.

Now that we seem to finally taking more notice of our effect on the environment the photographs in The New West seem even more poignant than when they were originally published.

Colorado Springs by Robert Adams

Colorado Springs by Robert Adams

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2 thoughts on “Influences #2

  1. Chris – There’s an interesting tension here. Will the passing of time make it more obvious that the cost of the American view of the west as an unlimited resource be better represented by Ansel or Robert Adams in your opinion?

  2. The photographs of Ansel Adams are very obviously fine photographic works that show the magnificent beauty of the American Wilderness, but even at the time they were made they were heavily laden with romantic nostalgia. I feel they will only serve America as a memory of its landscape in the way that Constable does for this country – a very distant and detached memory of past beauty. The photographs that Robert Adams took for ‘The New West’ still seem strangely ‘present’ and have more to say about change than just a beautiful image of a lost vista. A photographer that works in a similar way to Robert Adams in this country is John Davies, his photographs document the change in the landscape and show the marks of our history, but don’t obviously yearn for what was there before.

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