Human Nature

Dorm-room staple Ansel Adams gets a retrospective.

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The Cleveland Institute of Art’s Ansel Adams: A Legacy exhibit charts the evolution of a tree-hugging shutterbug who became the grand master of American nature photography. “He was a primary advocate for artistic photography, going beyond its basic ability to absorb reality,” says Tom Hinson, curator of photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which co-sponsors the show. “He saw his negatives as musical scores. Each time he performed them, they changed: The printing gets darker, the grays between black and white become more operatic.”

The 116 pics come from a collection rescued from auction by a pair of art-loving Texans. The photos were assembled years ago by Adams for a San Francisco-based picture-taking organization he founded. They span 60 years, ending in the early ’80s, when he died. They include examples from his entire oeuvre -- from breathtaking landscapes to portraits of friends to still lifes in nature. “These are key works -- masterworks from his entire career,” says Hinson. “We get to see firsthand how he chose to sequence them.” Hinson hopes viewers spot the beauty in Adams’ photos, as well as recognize the artist’s singular point-of-view. “It is an entirely subjective process,” he says. “Instead of a grand vista, you may find beauty in a tiny detail, the composition, or the interplay of light. This is how he wanted to be remembered.”
Wednesdays, Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: May 25. Continues through Aug. 19

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