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The New West: Photographs by Robert Adams

April 25–July 12, 1981

Robert Adams began early in his career to photograph the sprawl of bungalows, shopping centers, and factories which were springing up rapidly around his native Denver. By the 1970s, after exhausting his interest in the suburbs, he decided to try "to rediscover some of the landforms that had impressed our forebears. . . to include in the photographs some evidence of man." The core of the exhibition is drawn from Adams' portfolio From the Missouri West, including landscapes from Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Utah. As a landscape photographer Robert Adams redefines traditional objectives, rejecting the common notion that what is not wild is not natural. Very little of our country remains untouched by human beings which, writes Adams, "leaves photography with a new but not less important job: to reconcile us to half wilderness." His images include signs of human settlement in the once-empty pioneer country -- bulldozed roads for new housing developments, man-made lakes, serpentine highways, and roadside commercial buildings. Such incursions into the wilderness are, to Adams, at once expressions of human aspirations and a powerful record of the scale and indestructibility of nature. The hills, the tenacious desert vegetation, and the wide open sky are permanent, undefiled by the transitory telephone pole or mobile home. Adams' photographs, by including people and their works rather than seeking out a lost paradise, suggest the possibility of a reconciliation of man's presence in the natural world. Robert Adams is a contemporary master of the photographic medium whose subtle, luminous images provide subjects for contemplation and the possibility for a broadened perspective of the new world or reality which we inhabit.

Main Building


Michael E. Hoffman
Martha Chahroudi

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