“At one with the power of the American landscape, and renowned for the patient skill and timeless beauty of his work, photographer Ansel Adams has been a visionary in his efforts to preserve this country’s wild and scenic areas, both on film and on Earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature’s monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution. It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans.” President James E. Carter. Presenting Ansel Adams with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ansel Adams was a visionary American photographer best known for his iconic images of Yosemite National Park and the American West. Adams’s signature black-and-white photographs and dedication to wilderness preservation inspired an appreciation for natural beauty and a strong conservation ethic. His subject matter, the magnificent natural beauty of the West, was absolutely, unmistakably American, and his chosen instrument, the camera, was a quintessential artifact of the twentieth-century culture. Ansel Adams’s close-up, intense studies of isolated natural objects that capture nature’s most intimate details were often made on the same day as his more famous dramatic vistas. Adams advocated the role of photography as a fine art inspiring new ways of seeing and communicating.
“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and the wonder surrounding him.” Ansel Adams.
Adams was committed to affecting social and political change through art. Adams’ first cause was the protection of wilderness areas, including Yosemite. After the internment of Japanese people during World War II, Adams photographed life in the camps for a photo essay on wartime injustice.
“I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us.” Ansel Adams