Views by Robert Adams of the Los Angeles Basin, 1978-1983 : Essay

Book - 2000
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Since the 1960's, Robert Adams has used his camera lens to document the changing landscape of the United States. Covering the turbulent period from 1978 to 1983, Robert Adams' photographs of the Los Angeles basin document a disintegration that is at once social and ecological. At the same time, however, they reveal a persistent verdancy and vitality in the landscape that contains a glimmer of hope. This hope that Adams shares with the viewer is much like the hope held out at the end of a classical tragedy--insistent, yet difficult to account for. In "California" we find a bird in a defoliated orchard, a suddenly clear day on a quiet road, the astonishing silhouette of a eucalyptus in smog--and we are left wondering how to explain these seemingly unreal moments.The images here constitute yet another chapter in the oeuvre of one of the most important landscape photographers of our time, building on and communicating with Adams' continuing contribution to the national dialogue about America's health and future--as well as his monumental contribution to contemporary photography. Printed in stunning tritones, this new monograph features a revelatory introduction by former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass.
Publisher: San Francisco : Fraenkel Gallery ; New York : Matthew Marks Gallery, ©2000
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781881337102
Branch Call Number: 779.36 A216c 2000
Characteristics: 1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 25 x 30 cm
Additional Contributors: Hass, Robert


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Aug 26, 2016

There is something frighteningly familiar in the stark yet compelling landscapes in this book. It feels particularly personal as I lived in the eastern end of the Los Angeles basin for a short time between 1981-82. During that time I began to photograph the area as a reference for a series of drawings facetiously titled "Remembering Paradise: Postcards from Southern California." The idea was to draw images which were not likely to be found on a postcard, like the side of the 10 freeway taken from a speeding car, and to match them with notes to friends, observations of the mundane life of a Southern Californian. Many of these photographs in the same spirit. Who would want to look at this? Yet there is something that draws you in and you see quite a bit.

Even in black and white, Adams was able to capture the hazy no-skies from that time. Was it smog, or... ? And although at that time, there was never any mention of drought, everything looks dry. In some photos you can feel the Santa Ana winds blowing west from the desert. Adams has made images which are evocative of a time and place. I was there.


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