Ten Things You Didn’t Know: Ansel Adams


Ansel Adams, 1902-1984.

Ansel Adams, 1902-1984.

Some consider Ansel Adams to be the pioneer of modern nature photography and an

unparalleled ambassador of the environment, so much so that a peak and a forest in the region of the Sierra Nevada were renamed to honor his memory. In this Ten Things You Didn’t Know column we explore a few highlights associated with the late Ansel Adams. This April 22 marks 30 years since the death of this legendary photographer.

1 A single lot of 10 Ansel Adams prints fetched $43,750 (with buyer’s premium) at auction in May 2013 through Heritage Auctions. The portfolio included photographs taken between 1936 and 1960, each signed in pencil.

2 An only child, Adams grew up in San Francisco, Calif., with his parents, aunt and Portfolio-inclusion_3-copygrandfather. Finding little success in formal educational settings, Adams father and his aunt teamed up to teach him at home. It’s said he received a diploma from a private school, obtaining what would have been equivalent to an eighth grade education.

3 Over the years several museum exhibitions have featured his work, most recently the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibition “In Focus: Ansel Adams” opened in March 2014 and runs through July 20, 2014.

4 Having taught himself to play piano and read music at the age of 12, Adams’ main occupation was that of a piano player, before giving it up to become a world-renowned photographer.

5 It was The Sierra Club’s 1922 Bulletin where Adams’ photographs and writings first appeared in public.

6 During Bonhams’ Photographs auction in October 2013, five of the top 10 lots were Adams’ photographs, including the top lot titled “Aspens, Northern New Mexico,” circa 1958. The piece sold for $30,000. including buyer’s premium.

7 A life-long conservationist and 37-year member of the Sierra Club’s board of directors, Ansel-AAdams’ life and work were deeply inspired by and reflective of the majestic Yosemite Sierra region. A peak in the Sierra Nevada of California was named Mount Ansel Adams, while an area in the Sierra National Forest was renamed Ansel Adams Wilderness in 1985, a year after his death.

8 During a family trip to Yosemite National Park, 14-year-old Adams was given a Kodak Brownie camera thus beginning a lifetime passion that would earn him world-wide acclaim.

9 At the age of 4, Adams suffered a bad break to his nose, during the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

10 Nearly 60 books about Ansel Adams life and work have been published. April 22 marks the 30th anniversary of his death.

Sources: www.anseladams.com; Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com); A Biography of Ansel Adams, by Nan Deyo