"You take a canvas, divide it up like a checkerboard... and go from there." - Man Ray

John Szarkowski on Ansel Adams: Speaking of Art Lecture
February 25, 2023
John Szarkowski on Ansel Adams: Speaking of Art Lecture
  • Year
  • Categories
  • Duration 37 minutes
  • Producers Edgar Howard, Thomas Piper
About Film

“Szarkowksi’s thinking, whether Americans know it or not, has become our thinking about photography.” – US News & World Report, 1990

During his nearly three-decade tenure as Director of the Department of Photography (1962-1991) at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, John Szarkowski recast the world’s thinking about the art of photography.

His radically new conception of the medium’s possibilities — and its limitations — influenced a great range of critics, historians, theorists, and photographers. With his legacy as groundbreaking curator, steward of an unparalleled collection at MoMA, and keenly nuanced critic, he stands as one of the giants of 20th Century art history.

In this lecture on Ansel Adams, Szarkowski tackles the deeper significance of Adams’ work beyond his enduring popularity as an environmental pioneer and rhapsodist of the American West. “Adams did not photograph the landscape as a matter of social service, but as a form of private worship. It was his own soul that he was trying to save. He was confessing to a private knowledge that is almost surely incommunicable but that he was nevertheless obliged to attempt to photograph.”

John Szarkowski on Eugène Atget: Speaking of Art Lecture
John Szarkowski: A Life in Photography