Scott Nichols Gallery is pleased to present, An Enduring Friendship, Ansel Adams & Georgia O'Keeffe. The exhibition will be on view from June 4th through August 29th, 2009.
Ansel Adams (1902–1984) and Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) shared a fifty-year friendship and a mutual love of the Southwest. Both were drawn to the magical and inspirational landscape; the dramatic, big skies, unusual rock formations, and the extraordinary light of the region.
"All was diamond bright and clear and I fell quickly under the spell of the astonishing New Mexican light." Ansel Adams
In 1927 Adams accompanied Albert Bender, patron and mentor, to the Southwest; in Santa Fe he met writer Mary Austin and immediately began a collaborative book with words and photographs on the architecture and indigenous people of Taos Pueblo. Their trip continued to Taos where Adams took pleasure in the company of art patron, Mabel Dodge Luhan. The community was rich with artists; the painters Georgia O'Keeffe and John Marin, the photographer Paul Strand, the poet Witter Bynner and myriad other quests converged at Luhan's ranch, Los Gallos. In 1929, O'Keeffe was spending the first of many summers in New Mexico painting, Adams was photographing Taos Pueblo, thus began their shared appreciation for the beauty of the Southwest.
By 1930 Adams had already made numerous trips to the Southwest, but it was meeting Paul Strand that proved pivotal to his career, affirming his dedication to photography and ceasing his musical ambitions. Strand was photographing the local architecture in New Mexico and the stark landscape. He did not have prints to show Adams, but his recent negatives. The simplified shapes and luminous, richly detailed compositions confirmed for Adams the direction his work on Taos Pueblo was taking him. It was this event that moved Adams from pictorial photography to "straight photography". To quote his autobiography, "My understanding of photography was crystallized that afternoon as I realized the great potential of the medium as an expressive art".
In 1933, Adams traveled from California to New York for the first time. He met Alfred Stieglitz, photographer, gallerist and promoter of modern art. They too forged a friendship and in 1936 Stieglitz gave Adams an exhibition at his gallery, An American Place. Adams considered Stiegltiz an important mentor and began a correspondence that would last until Stieglitz's death. Included in the exhibit is Imogen Cunningham’s Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz, 1934, photographed against his most treasured O'Keeffe painting, Black Iris, and Ansel Adams photograph, Alfred Stieglitz at An American Place, New York City, 1944, showing Stieglitz surrounded by the paintings of O'Keeffe and John Marin.
For Adams, the Southwest was second in inspiration and importance to his beloved Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra, he even considered moving to Northern New Mexico at one point. He toured Northern New Mexico, Arizona and Southwestern Colorado with O'Keeffe and art patron, David McAlpin in 1937 and the following year the group joined Adams on a pack trip through Yosemite. Adams and O'Keeffe continued their correspondence and visits well into their senior years. Many of Adams most celebrated photographs were made in New Mexico; Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941; Aspens, Northern New Mexico, 1958; Thunderstorm Over the Great Plains, Cimarron, New Mexico, 1961, all included in this exhibition.
Enhancing the exhibition are southwestern photographs by Morley Baer, Horace Bristol, Paul Caponigro, William Clift, Mark Klett, Eliot Porter, Alan Ross, Paul Strand, and Brett Weston, In addition, portraits of Georgia O'Keeffe by Ansel Adams, Philippe Halsman, Yousuf Karsh, and Arnold Newman are included, plus photographs of O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu homes by Todd Webb.