The Easel

Archives: Andy Grundberg

23rd February 2021

Ansel Adams: the politics of natural space

For a time, Ansel Adams was America’s most acclaimed photographer. What exactly was his aesthetic achievement? His images of pristine, majestic nature were not pathbreaking and nor were his technical achievements. Perhaps he was tapping into the Romantics idea of the wilderness as a “metaphor for heroic aspirations.” If so, the untouched frontier is now lost to us, making Adams images just “artifacts of a lost contentment.”