Week-6-Contextual Research


  1. Ansel Adams Abstracts
  2. Pushing Boundaries.

1. This week I was introduced to Ansel Adam’s abstract work by Richard Gadd of the Weston Gallery at Carmel-By-The-Sea. I am very familiar with Ansel’s work, but up util this point in my practice, I did not know that Ansel dabbled in the abstract.

Richard showed me a few pieces. The subject matter of one piece was a pane of broken glass. Supposedly there are only four known prints of this image. I have never heard of it, or seen it before this time, so it was nice to know that ol’ conservative Ansel, had broken out briefly from the ‘Landscape’ genre.

As I looked at the image, I wondered why he made an image of broken glass. I theorized that it may be linked to a story I had heard about Ansel. Supposedly he was a little drunk, and was supposed to have said: “I was an artist once.” I tried to find some evidence of this story which was in a documentary, but as yet have not been able to substantiate it. However, seeing that image made me think of that. The subject matter: broken glass, the subject: a broken man/artist.

I researched Ansel abstractions, and came upon an article written by Robin Greenwood:  –  ‘Ansel Adams and Abstraction.’   I was hoping to find some accolades about the work, however to my surprise I found that Greenwood did not like them: “these were the ones I really disliked.”  It is interesting to not that not all people like abstractions. here is his reason why: ‘They are clichés now; abstract compositions. Boring.’  This will have to be something I take into consideration in my own practice. It seems that one  cannot please everyone, and one man’s meat is another’s poison.



2. Pushing Boundaries.

Since the first images made by Niepce and Daguerre, photographers have pushed the boundaries of the image. And just like painters, who got tired of realism, photographers followed in the me vein looking for ways to express themselves through images. Much of the photographers work is gleaned from Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Photographers like Minor White and Aaron Siskind had painterly qualities in the work and Siskind himself worked alongside painters like Kline, and from what I can see they drew from each others works.

Aaron Siskind -Chicago. Photo Credit:https://www.invaluable.com/blog/abstract-photography/

I like looking at works of artists who are abstractionists, I particularly like the work of Kasimir Malevich, Paul Klee and Kandinsky. Malevich abstracted down to the color black and the square shape, Kandinsky moved in the same direction with the use of color alone. Klee abstracted down to still having some recognizable shapes and forms from the real world, but for the most part abstracted them down to their basic forms.

I am doin the same in my practice at present. In my module project fences, I am slowly pulling away from the subject matter of the fence alone and moving into the subject matter of fences as metaphor. Metaphor for boundaries, challenges, difficulties and successes we have in out lives and out art. So I am withdrawing the physical fence more and more from my images. Hopefully by the time the final major project comes around there won’t be a single recognizable fence in the image.