- Art and Design
Ansel Adams: Sharply Focused On Display in Lawrenceville's Hutchins Galleries
From now through June 10, stop by The Lawrenceville School’s Hutchins Galleries to get a close-up look at Ansel Adams original photographs.
Generously loaned to The Lawrenceville School by alumnus Glenn H. Hutchins ’73 for his 50th class reunion, “Ansel Adams: Sharply Focused” features Adams’ “Museum Set” which includes more than 70 photographs of the most classic and iconic images by the famed photographer, writer, teacher, advocate and environmentalist.
Curated by Adams in the last years of his life, the works include a medley of expansive landscapes, candid portraits, environmental still lifes, and iconic architectural images that demonstrate his ability to capture photographic sharpness, texture, and gradients of light in the American West. The exhibition features a self-portrait and one of Adams’ earliest photographs from San Francisco, created in 1915.
“Ansel was trained as a concert pianist,” notes Hutchins. “He was famous for saying ‘The negative is the score, the print is the performance,’ and he printed all these photos personally.”
Hutchins describes how Adams would view the printing process as a type of performance.
“Each one is printed in a way that Ansel intended it to be experienced by you,” he says. “You are meant to stand in front of each of these, enjoy the moment, and understand what he is giving to you. You enjoy the one you’re looking at and it should absorb you.”
When asked to select his favorite Adams’ image, Hutchins says, “My favorite work is the one I'm looking at, at the moment and in the moment. Each one of those photographs has a different kind of beauty and intentionality.”
Hutchins says he began collecting Adams’ photography for several reasons, noting his appreciation of the impact photography had on the art world when it originated in the late 1800s. He’s also interested in the medium as it stands at the intersection of art and technology, and offers an ability to own a masterpiece.
“Finally, he is America’s greatest — he is the greatest photographer,” Hutchins says. During Lawrenceville’s Alumni Weekend in June, when Hutchins will return to campus to celebrate his 50th reunion, he says he will think about his parents when he visits his eponymous Galleries.
“The Hutchins Galleries are named after my parents – it was my mother who would take me to museums all around the world,” he says. “My father spent his life fighting hunger and poverty – concepts that are explored through the Hutchins Institute of Social Justice.”
Visitors to the exhibit will observe gradients -- separated into eleven tonal categories from absolute black to white -- that formed Adams’ famous “Zone System” which became the foundation of his artistic method. Ever the innovator and experimenter, Adams regularly embraced new technological advances during his career such as the 35mm camera to further his endeavors. Ultimately, Adams’ photography and natural adoration for the wilderness and its inhabitants led him to become both an award-winning environmentalist and human rights advocate. Ansel Adams’ 60-year career at the forefront of photographic practices and governmental policies helped to establish a legacy of art spurring advocacy that many continue to follow in the 21st century.
The exhibit also includes pieces from Lawrenceville’s permanent collection, featuring artists who were inspired by Adams’ work. A photo taken by school photographer Paloma Torres of the sculpture “Low Rider,” that is installed on Crescent Green, represents the connection between sculptor Charles Ginnever and Adams. Ginnever took photography classes with Adams in his Carmel, California workshop.
The Hutchins Galleries are located within the Hutchins Center, adjacent to the Gruss Center of Art and Design (GCAD). The main entrance for the Hutchins Galleries is at the rear of the building, and can be accessed during open viewing hours. Hours for the Galleries are:
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
All School community members are invited to a reception in the Hutchins Galleries on Friday, June 2 from 4-5 p.m.