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Ansel Adams, American, (1902–1982)
Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, c. 1942
Photographic materials on paper
19 1/2 x 15 1/2 in. (49.53 x 39.37 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of Virginia Adams
Accession Number: 2013.5.21

Ansel Adams is greatly indebted to the modernist movement of the early 20th century and he was even somewhat contemptuous of his predecessors’ photographic style known as Pictorialism He rejected its symbolic content and blurred forms. Despite this stance, he clung to 18th century romantic ideas of individualism and glorified nature above all else. A passionate environmentalist, Adams sought to depict nature as transcendental and majestic. In “Zabriskie Point,” he focuses on intensity and monumentalism. Because they run parallel to each other, the mountains in the foreground lead the eye toward a shadow in the background, which falls horizontally across them. The shadow sharply contrasts with lighter mountains farther in the distance. Adams’s mastery of light and composition encourages captivation with the scale and beauty of the landscape. The image also gives the viewer the suggestion of the infinite—the frame is filled with mountains, leaving no sense of where they end or begin.

Laura Woods, SCR ’18


Between 1978 and his death in 1984, Ansel Adams created a special inventory of fine photographic prints of his most important and favorite images. Adams created these prints in order to make his work more available to a wide range of institutions for public display and educational purposes as part of their permanent collections. These prints were sold in sets to individuals, corporations, and institutions subject to the written agreement that each set would not be sold on the open market, bu rather would be donated to institutions for public display and educational purposes. These sets of fine prints became known as the Ansel Adams Museum Sets.

Some of the institutions that have received gifts of Museum Set prints include The National Gallery of Art, the Wilderness Society, the Stanford art Museum, the de Young Museum, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Cornell University, and Princeton University.

Scripps College is very pleased to be the recipient of an Ansel Adams Museum Set through the generosity of the Virginia Adams Charitable Trust, created by Adams's wife, Virginia Best Adams. This gift to the Scripps College collection was made directly by the Virginia Adams Charitable Trust.

The copyright to this work and all works in the Ansel Adams Museum Set is held by the Virginia Adams Charitable Trust.

This work bears the signature of the artist in pencil at the lower right, directly beneath the photo.

gelatin silver print

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